No single issue has dominated the public discussion in our little college town over the past too many years like the problem of unruly off campus student behavior.
Yes, let me quickly interject that it's only a small minority that indulge in downright dangerous antics, tie up emergency services for preventable alcohol related calls and disturb the tranquility of neighborhoods all over town.
But when the majority of your population consists of "college aged youth," that small percentage adds up to significant number -- especially problematic considering our woefully understaffed Public Safety Departments.
Plus they all seem to want to get out of control around the same time: Thursday night through early Sunday morning.
In response to problems emanating from student rentals the town, 40 years after it was first proposed, enacted a Rental Registration and Permit Bylaw. As of today 100% of the rental property in town is registered and have a permit that can be revoked.
Neighbors now have easy access to contact information for those adults who are owners/managers of Party Houses and a simple mechanism to file complaints with the town should they not get satisfaction from them.
UMass, the Goliath that provides the vast majority of housing consumers, has also started taking things seriously after student bad behavior started receiving the continuous attention it deserved (kind of like the bad behavior of Bill Cosby should have been exposed many, many years ago).
For over four years now I have focused attention on the weekend circus with my "Party House of the Weekend" reports, naming names of both the arrested perpetrators of the mayhem and the landlords who own the property.
These days I get requests almost weekly to take down a post because a Google search brings it up and prospective employers are probably not overly impressed (although we all were young once I suppose).
March 8, 2014
The Blarney Blowout was also a major turning point as my spotlight on rowdy student behavior was amplified a thousand times over by national and international media coverage.
In spite of the $160,000 Davis Report suggesting overwhelmed police overreacted, the average citizen -- both taxpayers and students -- knows full well the alcohol fueled mayhem was a significant black mark for the University and its student body.
But you can still buy UMass branded shot glasses at the Textbook Annex
And it has served as an unmistakable wake up call, or some would argue an attention getting slap in the face.
So why do I, a grumpy old get-off-my-lawn cynic, think things are improving?
Last year between August 15 and November 15 Amherst police responded to 322 noise complaints, while issuing 91 Noise Violations and 33 Nuisance House violations.
This year between August 15 and November 15 Amherst police responded to 214 noise complaints, while issuing only 17 Noise Violations and 25 Nuisance House violations.
In other words total number of $300 tickets levied have dropped from 124 to 42 in just one year. A stunningly significant decrease.
Now that's worth partying over!