Maura Rossi and husband Johnhave lived in their house for 11years. Rossi said the disruptionsin the neighborhood beganabout three years ago. She saidNewell’s house has not causedany problems that she is awareof. However, she did have afew warning words for anotherhouse of Mercyhurst studentsand students from another col-lege across the street.“If you’re making noise atmidnight, I’m going to call thecops on you,” Rossi said with alaugh. “It’s not responsible to wake up everyone in the neigh-borhood because you want toparty.”Rossi said she and the neigh-bor across the street did not fallasleep until after 2 a.m. becauseof the noise on Friday, Oct. 1.Red plastic cups strewn aboutthe lawns, people urinating ontheir yard and loud music dis-turb the Rossi family on the weekends.Rossi worries about her twomiddle school aged girls being exposed to inappropriate be-havior, like the man sleeping inthe yard next door at 5 a.m. one weekend.She feels the integrity of theneighborhood is going down-hill.However, according to Bi-agini, most of the accusationsthat Rossi cited were events thathappened previous years. “We’resick of being blamed for thingsthat happened last year. We weren’t able to move in with aclean slate. They judged us be-fore they even gave us a chance,”Biagini said.“I don’t like the way the trendof the neighborhood is,” Rossisaid unhappily. She means toquell college parties in the area.“The neighbors here are going to make sure that it’s not real easy just to come and live here and do whatever you want,” Rossi said.“You have to follow the ruleslike we do.”However, the ﬁve Mercyhurstjuniors that live next door toRossi feel otherwise.One of the students, Biagini, who spoke with the police ofﬁceron Oct. 2, said about her neigh-bors, “We tried to be respectful,but they were out to get us before we ever moved in.”She and two of her room-mates, Amy Hopta and KristenPiquette, said they feel their resi-dence is being unfairly targeted. The police came to their houseonce before to ask the studentsto send their visitors homebecause a neighbor called in acomplaint. When asked if she wouldconsider talking to the studentsabout disrupting the neighbor-hood, Rossi replied ﬁrmly thatshe was not interested.Biagini said Rossi does notmake an attempt to be a civilneighbor.“She won’t even let her kidslook at us,” Piquette said.Piquette and her roommatessaid they are being stereotypedas uncaring, disrespectful collegedrunkards. Their house was a sore spotfor some neighbors before they moved in this year. DifferentMercyhurst students lived therelast school year and caused muchof the disturbance. The police ofﬁcer told Biaginithe station had received 16 callsthrough the start of last yearabout their house. “The ofﬁcerdid not care that different stu-dents lived there,” Biagini said.Biagini, Newell, Staley, Hoptaand Piquette all wonder aboutone question: What did thesepeople expect living next to acollege campus?Pastor Bernhard Bischoff, wholives next to Newell’s house andkiddy/corner to the Mercyhurst women’s house, chuckled andshook his head when asked forhis feelings on neighborhood dis-turbances. Bischoff has lived inthe neighborhood for eight yearsand has no complaints about theMercyhurst students.“They’re wonderful people,”he said. “Nobody throws beerbottles on the lawn. They neverpick my ﬂowers. They don’t evensteal my fruit.”Bishoff lived just outsideof another college campus be-fore moving to Briggs Avenue.Students there disturbed hisproperty. However, the studentsaround him now “cause notrouble,” he said.“I can’t hear any of theirparties,” Bischoff said andcalled Newell and roommates“a dream.”Nonetheless, Erie City PoliceChief Charles Bowers said thePin Oak Drive/Briggs Avenuearea is now under special atten-tion. He said police charged ninepeople, ﬁve from Mercyhurst andfour from Behrend, with having adisorderly house on Oct. 1.“If students create distur-bances,” he said, “police willnotify the respective college, andit will be up to the school to takedisciplinary action.”When asked about the policecharges, the girls were shockedbecause the police never ap-proached them. “We didn’teven have people over on Oct.1. There was a party across thestreet, and the cops never evencame to our door. How canthe police press charges on us without even talking to us thatnight?” said Hopta“We want people to respecttheir neighbors,” Bowers re-marked. Just eight days shy of the Eriezoning board’s decision, Mercy-hurst College pulled back its vari-ance request, citing public outcry and a profusion of rumor. Acknowledging the campus’impact on the surrounding area,for better or worse, PresidentGarvey said, “We are trying tobe good neighbors.”Instead of the planned 60-space parking lot to complimentthe re-vamped Parade Streetentrance and newly-constructedarch, Mercyhurst has switchedgears and plans to build a publicpark on the vacant lot. The intended parking lot wasto have functioned as a sort of release valve for the crowdedparking on campus, but thecollege will now have to look elsewhere to solve the seemingly insatiable parking issue. The site of the future park will most likely blend studentinterests with neighborhoodinterests. The park will provideboth a destination for afternoonstrolls and a more remote localefor outdoor studying. Additionally, there is the po-tential that there will be basket-ball hoops at the park, which would supplement the singleoutdoor hoop on campus by the pavilion between Briggs andLewis Avenues. Volleyball courts are also among the facilities being considered.As printed in the Erie Times-News, Garvey noted, “There wasso much misinformation, someof it utterly outrageous, circulat-ing among our neighbors that wedecided to modify our plans.”The neighborhood reactionto the college’s efforts towardsbuilding the parking lot mobilizedErie residents on Parade Streetand beyond, who organized andsought legal counsel in an effortto challenge the college’s plans toconstruct the lot.“I don’t want to be by a park-ing lot,” stated Parade St. residentDona Anderson, adding “It’ll bemore noise.” Anderson, though sympathetictowards the typical student’sunorthodox nocturnal habits,believed adding a parking lot ontop of the normal trafﬁc ﬂow of the Parade gate would createtoo much noise in the neighbor-hood.Many residents believe thatthey are entitled to give theirinput on the college’s actions,particularly when it directly inﬂuences the immediate neigh-borhood.Prior to the college’s decision,fellow resident Rick Adams not-ed that something more benign,such as an academic building orpark would be more acceptableto the neighborhood. Adams was among those whocontested Mercyhurst’s variancerequest. The would-be parking lot isn’tpart of the recent beautiﬁcationefforts across campus, and won’tbe seeing any grass until after winter. The space will be ﬂattened, butleft undeveloped until spring, when sustained landscaping ef-forts can take place unabated.For the Mercyhurst studentsdisappointed by the result of theCollege’s decision, they can atleast look forward to additionaltrees and green space on campuscome spring, as many on Paradestreet are likely doing.
PAGE 2 THE MERCIAD October 13, 2004
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Whether students know it ornot, Mercyhurst has the right topunish unacceptable behavior by any student, on or off campus,and the college has undertaken a“proactive” stance in addressing that behavior.Mercyhurst students carry thename of the college and becauseof this, Mercyhurst works to beaware of all students’ behaviors,all the time.According to Laura Zirkle,Director of Residence Life andStudent Conduct, the studentcode of conduct applies to allMercyhurst students.“Mercyhurst comes with a setof standards. If you’re doing something bad in the community,Mercyhurst has a right to address what you’re doing. The studentconduct code applies to all stu-dents, whether they live on or off campus,” said Zirkle.“Mercyhurst has been work-ing to ﬁnd the best approach tohandle out-of-control students who are living off-campus,” shesaid.“Mercyhurst worked with(Erie) city ofﬁcials to come up with a proactive approach to deal with the small percentage of stu-dents that causes the problemsthat are reﬂected on all students,”said Zirkle. “There is going to bea shift in policy by giving moreof a proactive education to helpstudents living off campus.”Also, Residence Life will be working with the IT departmentand Police and Safety Depart-ment to establish a database that will include the addresses andphone number of every off-cam-pus student so that the collegehas an accurate handle on their where-abouts, Zirkle said.“The rules of students living off-campus are similar for thestudents living on-campus andthe college will not hesitate toaddress proven problems,” shesaid.“Off-campus housing is very similar to housing with ResidenceLife on campus. The studentshave to follow the same conductcode; if you’re under 21 andcaught drinking off-campus it will be addressed through theconduct code and the police as well,” said Zirkle.She also added that the collegeonly addresses factual problems.“We watch what problems weaddress. We don’t just addresssomeone because we hear arumor. We address studentsanytime we get a written reportof a problem on or off campusthat has actual facts. We alwaysapply the student code of con-duct,” said Zirkle. “When thereis a problem off-campus, when we get a specific report fromstudents, police, neighbors, thatis not just a rumor, we’ll addressit.”In addition, Assistant Directorof Residence Life and StudentConduct Joe Howard said thatthe student code of conduct isnot a new policy. Many studentsare simply unaware that it exists.“This policy isn’t new. It’s arumor that all of a sudden thereis this iron ﬁst cracking downon off-campus housing, but wehave always made sure studentsare reﬂecting Mercyhurst well,”Howard said.Zirkle went on to comment onthe student population currently living off-campus.“We know most students liv-ing off campus are reflecting Mercyhurst well, but there is asmall number of students whodon’t adjust and are not sensi-tive to the neighborhood,” saidZirkle. “Sometimes studentsforget that when they move off-campus, they’re moving into anactual community.”Howard also commented onthe students. “It’s small groupsof students off and on campus who are causing problems withbottles in the lawns, urinationand out of control parties that iscreating this cloud for all Mercy-hurst students. So we’re seeing people who really are trying tobe good neighbors get this badreputation put on them and we’re very sympathetic about that,”said Howard.Both Zirkle and Howardstressed the importance thatstudents living off-campus know and understand the conductcode.Some important highlights of the conduct code:
Conduct or activity by mem-ber of the student body living off-campus or hosting functionsat off-campus locations thathas the effect of unreasonably interfering with the rights of neighbors is prohibited.
It is also the responsibility of Mercyhurst College studentsliving off-campus to control thenature and size of activities car-ried out in or on their premises,consistent with standards of thecollege.
Generally, an individual’sactions off-campus are subjectto the actions of civil authorities.However, the college reservesthe right to take action for off-campus behavior independent of civil authority when the interestsof the college are involved.For the complete Student codeof conduct, please see page 79,codes 15 and 16, in the StudentConduct Code book.
By Jason Endress
The empty lot will soon be a park instead of a parking lot.
Katie McAdams/Photo editor
ow will you be my neighbor?
Contrinued from Page 1.
By Jonelle Davis
Residence life responsible for all students
Students living off campus battle neighbors for respect
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