The blight of the boisterous neighbor
College living communities are plagued by noise violations often that go unaddressed
No one wants to look like the party pooper and bang on your neighbor’s door asking them to stop partying – but sometimes enough is enough.
For Valentina Valentine, hearing loud screaming and partying into the wee hours of the morning got old quick, especially with morning classes. The typical “college lifestyle” usually involves some loud moments, but sometimes roommates are just so bad it’s beyond the tolerance of most tenants.
Valentine, a junior health and human sciences and sociology major, has had many terrible experiences with inconsiderate hallmates in Clement Hall.
College students might be able to pick their own roommates, but when it comes to their next-door neighbors, there’s little to be done. Among the perennial plagues of dorms, apartments and off-campus communities, the noisy neighbor is one of the worst.
Between neighbors “screaming at 2 a.m.,” loudly slamming doors and cramming 18 people into a single room for dorm parties lasting until early morning, Valentine was regularly kept awake with classes early the next morning.
Approaching the neighbors about the issue was unprofitable, as was stating grievances to the resident adviser (RA).
“They laugh it off. You complain to [a] RA and they still disturb people,” Valentine said.
Brianna Satter, a senior biology major, struggled with her neighbors over the past two semesters living in the South Lake Village Apartment Complex.
The group of students on the floor above her would regularly bounce basketballs indoors and play video games and rap music at “unbelievably loud” volumes during all hours of the day.
“I couldn’t even cover it up with my own speakers,” Satter said. “They were having a rap battle. It sounded like the apocalypse had begun up there.”
Confronting the neighbors about it directly yielded no change.
After numerous requests to be considerate and three petitions for help from the community assistants, the conflict finally was resolved during finals week.
Satter was disappointed by the university’s response to the issue.
“UB seems to have a huge hands-off policy until they have to step in,” she said. “I would have appreciated any sort of intervention beyond sending someone to tell them to stop. They ask you if you have tried talking to them when you call the Community Building, but how many times do I have to do that before we get some real intervention?”
According to the 2015 Guide to Campus Living, 24-hour quiet hours are in effect during finals week and violations can be punished by “immediate suspension from the residence halls.” It also states “courtesy hours” are always in effect, meaning that requests to discontinue noisy behaviors should always be honored.
UB Judicial Affairs offers mediation services located at the Center for Resolution and Justice. The Judicial Affairs website lists noise complaints among the issues students can bring to mediation sessions that include facilitated communication and brainstorming between conflicting parties.
Living off-campus doesn’t provide respite from the curse of inconsiderate neighbors. While many students move off-campus seeking privacy, personal space and freedom from disruptions, the situation is often no better.
Ali Alsaqqa, a physics graduate student who lives on Springfield Avenue, said, “noise coming from parties was simply too often [not] to be mentioned.”
Additionally, he said his neighbors refused to take care of their garbage and often used Alsaqqa’s own garbage can for their trash.
The university encourages students and organizations hosting off-campus parties to use the Party Registration System. According to the Off-Campus Student Services website, registered parties are notified of noise complaints by the Buffalo Police and receive a “20-minute grace period” in which to break up the party.
The university also offers a “landlord report” where students can submit complaints about such issues as housing problems and loud neighbors.
Further noise complaints can result in the host receiving a noise violation fine and a referral to the university's judicial process.
The website states that unauthorized parties receive no such notice and are treated with “zero tolerance” by the city.
Alsaqqa’s lack of success confronting the neighbors reflects the too-common theme of other tenants’ refusal to comply with noise complaints.
*Harry Zachariah, a senior at UB, is one of the people who would get noise complaints often.
Living in off-campus apartments, Zachariah and his friends would often play musical instruments in the common space of their apartment. The neighbors frequently found this disruptive and would often “bang on the walls really loud” when they played.
“If they knocked, we would usually quiet down or stop,” Zachariah said. “One time when we were jamming I remember hearing a loud noise outside my door, but I didn’t really think that much of it [until] later. When we opened the door later that night, we saw two or three eggs splattered across it.”
Zachariah said he questioned the neighbors about the incident shortly after, but was rudely dismissed.
While there has been no direct confirmation of who was responsible for the egging, Zachariah is convinced of the neighbors’ guilt and for this reason did not want his name in print.
“Like, I understand that we got loud once in a while but it wasn’t during late hours. Plus they would throw big parties every weekend where you could feel the bass through the walls. It’s ridiculous,” Zachariah said. “If they had been adults and asked us to quiet down in person, we would have cooperated. But they were very immature about it.”
While a desire for peace and quiet is one of the forces driving students off campus, disruptive and inconsiderate neighbors seem hard to escape.
For Valentine, noise levels alone make it not worth it to live on campus.
“It’s not worth spending $7,000 a year to live in noise,” she said.
Despite the stereotype of college students’ boisterous lifestyles, most students need peace and quiet when they get back home and expect others to also have reasonable noise levels.
*Name have been changed to protect privacy of individual
Luke Heuskin is the assistant arts editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org