Chronicle Exclusive: QU security goes off-roading

By on October 17, 2006

Two months after the university established a hotline number for Hamden residents to voice concerns about the behavior of students living off campus, university security officers have responded to the private residences of students as a result of some complaints.

Similar issues began to arise last fall when six Quinnipiac students were expelled following a Halloween party at a privately owned Hamden residence. Approximately 30 Hamden police officers and a K-9 unit responded to a call made by those who lived in the home when they noticed that dozens of students were being dropped off at the party by Quinnipiac shuttles. The Hamden police department claimed that there were 300 students present when they arrived.

Students whose private residences have been visited by security are unhappy by the practice, which occurred after neighbors called the hotline and complained about loud noises, both parties said.

Wendy Wei, a senior who lives on Whitney Avenue, hosted a party of about 25 people earlier this semester. University security personnel and a resident assistant came to her two-family house.

“The [university security] came in and turned down our music and told us to quiet down, then left,” she said. “An off-campus resident assistant was there, too.”

About one hour later, security returned with Hamden police officers, Wei said. The security personnel documented the students’ names, which Wei considers unfair.

“I think [this is an invasion of privacy] because it’s not QU housing, we’re all 21, not underage and we weren’t doing anything illegal,” said Wei, a public relations major. “Also, [Quinnipiac] is the one making us live off campus in the first place.”

Even so, the university has the legal jurisdiction to send security officers to private houses if town residents call the complaint hotline about a particular residence, said John Twining, university chief of security and safety.

“We do have the authority to respond to resident’s complaints, and in doing that, we may visit the off-campus residence of students,” he said. “Generally, we remind them that they are subject to the university judicial code no matter where they live, and we remind them that they should treat their neighbors as their own parents would like to be treated: with respect and courtesy.”

The number of complaints made by town residents since the hotline was established on Aug. 10 is “fewer than 20,” Twining said. Of the approximately 2,000 full-time undergraduate students who live off campus, no students have been arrested as a result of calls to the complaint hotline, he said.

“Quinnipiac security does not break up parties. The Hamden police have the ability to do that at off-campus locations. Our security staff can inform students of their responsibilities, and their liability under the Quinnipiac judicial code regardless of where they live,” he said.

Wei said that her neighbors are primarily Quinnipiac students. She is puzzled as to who called the hotline.

“I later got a call from Brian Amero, [off campus Resident Hall Director] apologizing for the R.A. because he wasn’t supposed to do that,” Wei said.

Dan Quinn, a senior who also lives on Whiney Avenue, said security officers showed up to his house twice in one evening last month.

“We had a bunch of people over and security came twice. The first time, they told us to turn the music down,” Quinn said. “The second time, they asked us if we had any underage kids in the house, and, if we did, to get them out.”

The security officers told Quinn the Hamden police would respond if another complaint was made to the hotline that night.

“[The university security] seemed like they were doing us a favor. They were not hard on us at all” and the Hamden police did not arrive at the home, Quinn said. Nothing has become of the incident, he said.

Each complaint to the hotline is handled on an individual basis, Twining said.

Town residents welcome the creation of the hotline as a valuable asset in which the university is taking the initiative to monitor its students, said Dan Kops, assistant town planner for Hamden.

“There is a problem in that 2,000 students are living off campus,” Kops said. “Students sometimes forget that there are small children and elderly people living in their neighborhoods.”

The vast majority of these students are mindful of their off-campus neighbors, Kops said.

The 24-hour Residents Concerns Hotline is staffed by university security personnel and can be reached at 582-3770. University security and town officials meet with each other every week.

“The citizens will see that their complaints have been heeded by the university and that students are behaving responsibly,” Kops said.


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