Order would require arrested partiers to clean up city

by Beacon Staff • February 22, 2006

The proposal, developed by Councilor Jerry McDermott, who represents Allston-Brighton, plans to sentence college students who are arrested for "party-related offenses" to community-service hours in the area where the offense took place.,A new order in the works at Boston's City Council could soon force some college students to join city clean-up crews.

The proposal, developed by Councilor Jerry McDermott, who represents Allston-Brighton, plans to sentence college students who are arrested for "party-related offenses" to community-service hours in the area where the offense took place. The crews would be made up of students exclusively, McDermott said, with non-student offenders serving on other clean-up crews.

A party-related offense, McDermott said, ranges from drunk and disorderly conduct to underage drinking to unreasonable noise and disruption of the peace.

McDermott said he is planning to call a meeting with student and administrative representatives from area colleges, along with David T. Donnelly, the first justice in the Brighton division of the Boston Municipal Court Department, and Captain William Evans of District 14, to discuss his idea.

This meeting will take place sometime in March, McDermott said.

This is not the first step that McDermott has taken toward curbing college partying. McDermott sponsored the University Accountability Ordinance (UAO), which requires colleges to provide the Boston Police Department with how many students live off-campus in each zip code of the city, according to the Sept. 29 issue of The Beacon.

The UAO was an attempt to let police know where students were concentrated in order to be able to quickly break up loud or unruly parties that get out of hand. McDermott also co-sponsored a keg licensing bill, which requires area liquor stores to provide the Boston Police Department with the names and addresses of people who buy kegs in order to help officials determine where potential party areas may be, The Beacon reported in September.

McDermott said that his community service proposal would benefit offending students.

"I don't want to see some kid's life ruined with a record because they happened to be holding a cup when the cops come in," McDermott said.

Judges occasionally sentence students to community service, in addition to keeping the charge on their records, McDermott said. Although punishment would be up to the discretion of the courts, McDermott said he hopes to work with judges to replace a mark on a student's record with mandatory community service.

"I don't want to keep them out of law school or from having a productive job," he said. "So, I think this will send a wake-up call that just because they're here visiting to get a great education doesn't mean they can disrespect the neighborhood they're in."

Sydney Covert, a senior media studies major, said she sees the benefit in this punishment.

"I would much rather have to do some hours of community service than have this on my record or have to pay some fines," Covert said.

However, Covert also said that students are not the only city residents who create messes on the streets of Boston.

"Anyone in an altered state could do something destructive, it's not necessarily just students who disrespect their neighborhoods," Covert said.

McDermott said he got the idea after he realized that the messes around Allston-Brighton were only sporadically cleaned up.

McDermott said small service organizations, colleges and city groups clean the area about once a year, but that there is no consistent clean-up schedule.

McDermott attributed the messes to students and "young professionals," and said there are lots of paper cups, plates and wrappers piling up all over the streets.

"I figure why not set [students] up with a broom, shovel and a barrel and let them clean," he said. "I think they would see how much of the mess is from the parties they are having."

Some students, however, don't see how this can be an effective action against curbing problems of partying.

Kainan Porter, a sophomore film major, has been at several parties broken up by the police in Boston and has found that students are rarely arrested.

Porter said he was at a party in Allston last year when police came in and broke it up without arresting anyone. This, Porter said, has happened at several parties he has been to in Allston.

"The cops will talk to the owner and tell them to keep it down, but it seems like they've seen so many parties that they just don't see the point of arresting someone, unless they are doing something blatantly illegal," he said. He said he thinks the party penalties would have little effect on underage drinking, just as he has seen no difference since the city implemented its keg licensing program.

Junior writing, literature and publishing major Cassandra Maker said she feels McDermott's proposal would encourage students to commit "party offenses."

"Part of me thinks it's nice that there is nothing on the record, because so many people get caught for these offenses," Maker. "But I feel like people will keep doing it if there is not something on their record."

McDermott said he feels that it is only a pocket of college students who are causing these kinds of problems. However, those students who do have unruly parties often disrupt the peace, which he said is unfair.

"They need to remember they are living next door to people like their parents and their grandparents," he said. "We were all students and we all went through this, but students need to respect the neighborhood they live in."