How 'bout a little

There's a prevailingsentiment in Duluth's collegeneighborhoods. Longtime residents wish students were more considerate of their lifestyle. The students have the same request.

There's a prevailingsentiment in Duluth's collegeneighborhoods. Longtime residents wish students were more considerate of their lifestyle. The students have the same request.

Amy Wold knew it was time to move when it became clear to her that her neighbors would rather practice keg stands than practice civility.

The Duluth woman lived on Halsey Street with her husband and three children until June 2006. After problems with neighboring University of Minnesota Duluth students escalated and talks with them failed, the owner of that house -- the father of a student who lived there -- called Wold's Realtor and asked if they would sell, "because they were not going to stop partying," Wold said.

"It was like, all right, they are not going to change their behavior," she said. "At two in the morning, my kids would wake up to the F-word."

Wold's experience highlights what many families and permanent residents who live in a college neighborhood feel: Students in rental homes are taking over pleasant family streets and turning them into mini-frat rows.


Students contend they're not all vomit-spewing, cussword-blathering idiots who urinate on neighbors' trees. They just want to live near their college and get an education.

A middle ground is what both sides are trying to seek.

Partying isn't the only problem. As a recent Duluth ordinance proposal to change the number of nonrelated people in a home from six to four showed, parking is, too.

The issues -- increased garbage, cars, drinking and noise -- have not changed over time, according to UMD vice chancellor of operations Greg Fox. But the number of students has.

"As that changes in those neighborhoods, those interactions increase," he said.

'clueless about families'

The Wold family sold their house -- but not to their neighbors, who never made an offer.

The students told the Wolds they had afternoon classes, which enabled them to drink until the wee hours of the morning. Though when sober they promised to be quiet, after drinking they seemed to forget that, Amy Wold said.


"They had selfish attitudes and were disrespectful," she said. "I think they were really a bad example, but some of these kids are clueless about families."

Some students think families are clueless about students and the way they live. When families live in a college neighborhood they should expect reasonable college-age behavior, many believe.

UMD junior Alex Hubler lives on Marion Street with a handful of roommates near the university's campus. Neighbors, a mix of families and college students, have never complained in the two years he's lived there, he said.

For those who do have a problem with students, "they have to look at the way it is," he said. "This is a major university that is really holding Duluth together. We're going to be here. We're a big part of the economy."

The residents in houses surrounding his, it seems, have come to tolerate student behavior.

"Sometimes I think they would maybe care, but they ... don't," he said. "This house has previously had pretty wild people and they're just kind of used to it."

Sharon Hanson lives on the end of Marion Street. She has lived in the neighborhood for 35 years and says it has morphed from a family community to "College Town."

Three years ago, she said, her neighbors moved away because they couldn't stand the noise and problems associated with college neighbors. Except for students cutting across her lawn to get to class, and once when they ruined a small apple tree, Hanson said her college neighbors aren't a problem.


"If it was terrible, I probably would've tried to sell my house and get out," she said. "In all the years I've had renters next door, I haven't called anyone, and I would if I had a problem."

Karen Kilpo has lived on West Kent Street near UMD for 20 years. She said a number of college students live in houses near her family and, for the most part, have been respectful neighbors. She gets nervous when new students arrive each year, and she noticed more parties this September than in years past.

"I understand a party here or there," she said. "And I don't think they mean to be loud, but they just are."

Her family saw partygoers using their alley as a bathroom one weekend in September.

"We were coming home with our son and we were just like, 'We're kind of done with this,' " she said.

When Chester Park Elementary closed, lots of families moved out of Kilpo's neighborhood, opening it up for student rentals, she said.

Tony Printon and Nathan Bronk live on East Third Street and have had police at their door twice this school year. The UMD juniors said police told them neighbors complained that people outside waiting for cabs were too loud.

"Neighbors should come to us first before they call the cops," Printon said. "We'd listen to them."


The students have sympathy for families that live in their area, because "we don't know how much of a choice they had to live in a college neighborhood," Printon said.

Greg and Connie Toscano live in Chester Park next to college students. Other than one late-night incident in which some visitors crossed their back lawn and swore at them, Greg Toscano said he and his wife haven't had any negative experiences with their college neighbors.

"It's been neutral," he said.

Wold doesn't assume that all college students are disrespectful neighbors. Her kids' babysitter was a UMD student.

"I bet if she and her friends lived next door we wouldn't have had a problem," she said.

college party code

Mike Tusken, deputy chief of patrol for the Duluth Police Department, recalls filling a Duluth Transit Authority bus seven years ago with about 25 "particularly unruly and disrespectful" college students who had been ticketed for underage consumption or disturbing the neighborhood at parties.

Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said the response police give to a college party depends on what officers find when they arrive on the scene. A 250-person kegger, for instance, will get a different response than six friends sitting around a campfire with a guitar and a few cold ones.


Ryan Temple, a Duluth police officer whose patrol district includes several college neighborhoods, said when police officers break up a college party these days, they tend to focus on the hosts. The first time, party hosts will typically get off with a warning, though they could be cited for a party-related violation. If police are called to the same location a second time, the hosts may be more likely to be ticketed for an offense such as disturbing the neighborhood, which carries a $100 fine for a first offense.

"It's worked better for us this way, though we do often get called back to the same properties," Temple said.

The Duluth Police Department created a code specifically for college parties two years ago.

A review of the properties to which squads were called using that code indicates that in most cases, police were not called to the same property again for the same complaint.

Police visited 12 properties twice, two properties three times and one property -- 30 W. College St. -- four times between Aug. 15, 2006, when the college party code was put into use, and Sept. 26, 2007, records show. They responded to 95 properties once during that same period.

"It seems as though the kids that we're going to their parties these days, they're quick studies," Tusken said. "They've heard the stories."

Tusken said responding to college parties diverts police resources from emergencies and other situations, so the Police Department works several angles in trying to curb rowdy partying.

If the hosts are athletes, for instance, the police will sometimes contact the coaches. Once, the department sent letters home to the parents of students who had been ticketed for underage drinking or rowdiness at parties.


"We try to use every available angle to make them realize these parties take valuable police resources off the street," Tusken said. "The response, when we come to the door, is usually, 'Don't you have anything better to do?' The answer is: 'Yes.' "

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