Would you be my neighbor?

It’s eleven thirty on a Friday night and you’re hanging out with friends at your place downtown. There’s a knock at the door. You answer it and come face-to-face with the Burlington Police Department. It turns out your neighbors don’t appreciate Sam Adams’ “I Hate College” quite as much as you do.  Especially not at 100 blaring decibels. But this isn’t a party.  It’s just a few friends relaxing after a long week of studious behavior.  And the “non-party” is about to rack up an expensive bill.  Noise violations are handed out like Halloween treats in Burlington, and every day is October 31.  But these “treats” feel more like tricks when a six-person get-together results in a $300 fine for everyone on the lease.  This is the time of year when people are settling in to new places and just starting to get an ear for what it means to be “too loud.” The response to downtown noise should take the learning curve into consideration when dealing out punishments.  For most, being a neighbor — in it’s truest sense — is a completely new experience.  A warning for first time “offenders” would go a long way towards not only reducing noise, but also improving the relationship between police and students.  We don’t want to be bad neighbors and most people would respond well to a warning and a helpful hint or two.  But the effort needs to go both ways. Off-campus students need to take the time to learn.  It is ultimately our responsibility to be a positive addition to the Burlington community, rather than a detrimental one.  Finding that line between a few friends and a house party should be a priority.  It may be simpler than you’d think. Get to know your neighbor. Give them your cell phone number to call if things get too loud. A simple “just so you know I am having a few people tonight” could go a long way. Although many of us only live here for four short years, our neighbors are life-long residents, or children getting ready to start elementary school. Knowing who you live near can help you to gauge how loud is appropriate. Otherwise, keep people off porches, out of yards and — for the love of God — close your windows.  The city of Burlington has an interest in keeping the noise down late at night. After all, families and working people live in the same neighborhoods we do.   All we’re asking for is a friendly warning once in a while. There is a difference between a 100-person rager and a handful of friends playing music too loud. Especially while it is still warm out and the windows are open.   And it’s important for students to be mindful of how loud they’re being, and take a couple easy steps that will greatly decrease the likelihood of crossing paths with the cops.   Have people come inside instead of hanging out on the porch or lawn, shut the windows, close the blinds, turn the music down a little. It’s common sense stuff, and it could make all the difference.