Quiet hours offer enforceable alternative to courtesy policy

Written By Kayla Snyder, Co-Copy Desk Chief

Residents returned to school to find a new policy in place, one that prevents them from being loud at certain hours each day, but is separate from the courtesy policy already in place.

Last year, residents were supposed to follow the 24-hour courtesy policy, but that left room for conflict when it comes to enforcement.

Over the summer, the professional staff at Student Life sat down to discuss the possibility of adding a university-wide residential quiet hours policy that restricted noise from a certain time rather than just having courtesy hours. Students were first introduced to this policy during their floor or building meetings.

“The resident educators (REs) in the building were having a hard time enforcing such a generalized policy like the 24-hour noise courtesy policy that states residents at all times are expected to be courteous and aware of their noise levels and how that could impact their neighbors,” first year Resident Director Caleb Rodgers said.

Both of the policies are in place for residential students, and while the policies are similar, they do have one distinct difference.

“Quiet hours are specific, enforceable hours, but courtesy hours are general,” Director of Student Life Amanda Anderson said.

The quiet hours policy within the handbook states: “On all days when classes are held the following morning (Sunday through Thursday), Quiet Hours are in effect from 11:00 p.m. through 9:00 a.m. Weekend (Friday and Saturday) hours are in effect from 1:00 a.m. through 10:00 a.m.”

Within the policy there are specific times where there’s a 24-hour quiet hour policy in place. Those specific times fall between the last week of classes, the weekend prior to final exam week and final exam week.

Prior to this year, REs had the option to set their own quiet hours, but the only written documented policy was the 24-hour noise courtesy policy.

“There were REs on our staff that would set quiet hours for their floor, but what we ran into with that is the REs were doing as much as they could to enforce the policy,” Rodgers said. “But because it was not a university-wide policy, they were having trouble enforcing it beyond what they, themselves could do as an RE.”

Upperclassmen Resident Director Maria Ochoa said the policy was enacted due to complaints from residents not only within the Boulevard Apartments and suites, but all residential buildings on campus.

“[I heard] that there was always loud music playing and students were uncomfortable knocking on doors and asking their neighbors to turn it down,” Ochoa said. “[The noise] came from speaker systems and dancing around, and you can hear those vibrations through the apartments.”

Dean of Student Life Michael Gieseke said in recent years there has been an uptick in the amount of noise complaints and violations.

“[The Residence Life staff] said they wanted to re-emphasize and refocus everyone’s attention to the violations,” Gieseke said. “It wasn’t something that happened because we decided we wanted everyone to be quiet, it came out of several student complaints over the last couple years, and we saw an increase.”

In addition to the new implementation of the quiet hours, residents are still expected to follow the 24-hour courtesy policy.

“They’re both right next to each other in the handbook, and that was done primarily because while we did implement the quiet hours policy, we still want students to know at any point during the day someone can approach you and ask you to turn your music down and students are expected to comply with that request,” Rodgers said.

Returning first-year RE Bradley Calleja said the quiet hours policy is easier to follow than the courtesy hours.

“Having specific quiet hours makes it easier for everyone to understand,” Calleja said. “Noise was a big complaint on campus last year, and the goal was to end that.”

Similar to the 24-hour courtesy policy, the violation procedure of the quiet hours policy is addressed by Student Conduct.

“For us, it’s all the same,” director of student conduct JW Tabacchi said. “We’re doing it more to be helpful for the community so they can sleep and work and study in a quiet context.”

Tabacchi said if the issue is just a noise violation, residents will receive a warning letter, which are administrative files, but aren’t a part of the student’s student conduct official record.

“[Warning letters] are more like an alert. But if you continue to be loud, then we will take official action,” Tabacchi said. “If a student receives multiple noise complaints, then we’ll bring them in and charge them with a noise violation policy and have an actual student conduct meeting, but that rarely, if ever, happens.”

First year RE Rania Draklellis said as a resident last year she experienced noise from the floor she lived on last year.

“With just a 24-hour noise policy, people are confused, and it’s vague enough that you can test it to see how far you can go,” Draklellis said. “But with a courtesy policy and quiet hours there’s no question on when it’s loud.”

As far as the implementation of the policy, the REs predict there will be a transition period for upperclassmen students more than freshman students.

“It’s new. People are trying to get into the swing of it,” upperclassmen RE Keely Sapienza said. “They’re realizing they have to be quiet at a certain time.”

Calleja said freshmen resident students won’t have an adjustment period due to the fact that they’re new to the university.

“There’s no real adjustment because they’ve never experienced anything else,” Calleja said. “For them, having quiet hours is the norm.”

While the policy has only been in effect for three weeks, Tabacchi says there have been just as many noise violations this semester than previous years.

“I don’t see a real change in student behavior yet,” Tabacchi said. “Any time we implement a new policy it takes two to three semesters, not necessarily years, for the word to get out there and for students to be educated about it. I wouldn’t see a change a change in behavior until next fall.”