As the weather becomes nicer — parties become nosier, but why is there a lack of enforcement? That’s what residents near Manhattan College’s campus want to know.
Over time students who live off college campuses have been prone to hold noisy parties, especially on West 238th Street. How many complaints does it take to stop a party? Non-college residents want to know.
“What is the 50th (Precinct) doing on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night,” said Mitch Sobel, 10-year resident of W est 238th.
Public Safety told The Riverdale Press that they had already received many complaints about this specific apartment, but said they were not allowed to disclose how many calls they received. Calls to the 311 hotline gave the same answer.
Sobel said he wouldn’t be surprised if there were hundreds of calls over the past few years.
This time neighbors had enough after a particularly wild house party on the roof at 440 W. 238th St., hosted in broad daylight the week end before Easter.
The house was jammed tight that squeezed in more than 100 hundred people with loud music.
Christian Thompson felt assaulted experiencing the party that occurred around noon.
“I’m also a student, and I had to shut down a project that was due Tuesday, and I lost a whole day’s worth of work and forget working at night,“ Thompson said.
Sobel told The Press students in dorms also complain about the noise. But nothing is done about it?
Thompson walked over to the precinct after he stopped to study and complained. They told him they couldn’t do anything without a warrant.
“They could knock on a door, though,” Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said.
A police officer may enter a house without a warrant with permission, or if they have probable cause that a crime is taking place.
“Are they outside? Are they making noise in the street? Are they using illegal drugs on the street? Because that gives the police the opportunity to do enforcement,” Dinowitz said.
There have been sightings of public urination, which is considered a misdemeanor and a public offense in New York City. If caught, a summons would be issued, remaining as a criminal record.
“I don’t want to have to dodge college student urine just because they can’t figure out how to get to a bathroom.”
If police patrolled, there would be tickets that would focus on offenses. However, according to residents, patrol cars are spotted only on weekdays during school hours.
On the same day as the party, Thompson visited the Assemblyman’s office to request help.
“I don’t have enforcement powers, I can’t issue summons,” Dinowitz said. “Believe me, if I could issue a summons, I would knock on that door right now,” said Dinowitz.
Manhattan College’s handbook contains a “good neighbor” policy asking students to respect and act responsible around their neighbors. This property is not on campus, although students live there.
“Any student living off-campus are expected to be exemplary citizens and to uphold community standards,” said Peter McHugh, the college’s media relations and strategic communication spokesperson.
If students break these rules, the Dean of Students office will address the students in question. If the problem continues, they will be considered a “nuisance residence.”
Once the student is considered a nuisance, the college will prohibit that person them from living at that residence for a designated length of time. The landlord will also be contacted.
“On West 238th Street, it’s probably the biggest offender for being offensive,” Sobeel said.
“They had posted a phone number for people who wanted to rent space. And when I did a Google search on the phone number, it kind of tracks that through a couple of LLCs.“
Dinowitz was not surprised.
This led the residents to believe that this specific unit is a fraternity house. There is no solid proof that this is true. However, a few years ago, Sobel said when he shared space with students at that house he spotted a fraternity flag hanging on the walls.
Dinowitz is concerned with the school because he received many complaints throughout the year.
He added that if a resident would call him, he would come to the location to see it for himself.
“I’m going to call someone 3:30 in the morning for someone who isn’t going to answer; it doesn’t seem like a real possibility,” Sobel said.
Sobel wants to know what the precinct is focusing on instead of checking on the noise complaints.
Over the years parties have increased because the college has expanded.
This resulted in more units being given out. Sobel said that he tries to understand it on the students point of view. He imagines them saying, “What do you expect living so close to a college.”
However, Sobel said there are a lot of children in the neighborhood and it is a bad example for them to see such behavior.
Just because residents live near a campus doesn’t mean the students need to control the residential area, Sobel explained. “I’ve been here for 10 years, you’ve been here for six months,” he said regarding the students.
This group of students are recreating a similar situation from last year, another unit on West 238th Street where students lived.
“When we first moved we heard some backyard parties, we thought, ‘Oh, it’s the summer, they’re just having a barbecue,” Shannon Oksman who is a resident of the neighborhood for the past eight years, told The Press last year.
She said that if she knew there would be a ruckus she would have never considered moving in.
However, last year the apartments were not the issue — it was local bars that students visited. Fenwick’s bar on West 238th was subject to rowdy customers, and according to past reports, there were police raids.
Oksman tried to sympathize with the students last year when she said she understands that each year are new students who may not be familiar with the residential rules.