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October 10, 2005

Campus-community coalition targets problem of large off-campus parties


By Louise Donahue

Out-of-control student parties in residential areas affect both the campus and the community. So what could be more logical than putting together a coalition of students and campus and community leaders to tackle the problem?

Students with gnome
From left, students Julian Ramirez, Tyra Thorstad, Chelsea Iwamoto, and Edgar Nuñez join Health Center employee Eleanor Gillis, in a gnome costume, following the press conference.
Photo: Louise Donahue

The new coalition, called Campus CURB--Community United to Reduce Bingeing--unveiled its plans at an October 6 press conference at the Student Health Center.

The coalition will conduct awareness campaigns and support the new Santa Cruz ordinance that imposes stiff fines on those whose parties repeatedly require police attention.

And while the problems caused by excessive drinking can be serious, the coalition has decided against a heavy-handed approach. One of the coalition’s first campaigns, an effort to encourage party hosts and guests to act responsibly, is called “Just Say Gnome: Party Small.”

Chancellor Denice D. Denton and other UCSC administrators were joined at the press conference by Santa Cruz mayor and UCSC lecturer Michael Rotkin; June Coha of West Side Neighbors; a student residential assistant; and three students from  the Student Health Outreach and Promotion (SHOP) program at the Health Center.

Chancellor Denton emphasized that those hosting large, loud parties do not represent the typical UCSC student. “I’m very proud of our students,” she said, adding that, unfortunately, “even a few individuals can create an impact, not only in our campus, but in our community.”

“This is a national issue. It’s been around for a long time,” she said, citing some of the problems caused by excessive drinking, such as auto accidents and the increased likelihood of date rape and other assaults. The chancellor endorsed the efforts of the campus and the city of Santa Cruz to bring the problem under control.

Mayor Rotkin and others praised the coalition for pinpointing the problem of excessive drinking, rather than taking a prohibitionist approach to all drinking. “Moderate and responsible drinking is not the cause of problems in our society,” he said. Modeling one of the “Just Say Gnome” t-shirts displayed at the press conference, Rotkin explained that the new city ordinance is designed to put an end to the most excessive partying—the kind that requires the attention of several police officers. “It’s not for the party that’s a little too loud.”

Neighborhood activist Coha echoed Rotkin’s view that the new ordinance would be used rarely. “Good neighbors are not against parties. We need to all work together.”

UCSC and Santa Cruz police were also represented at the event. The Santa Cruz Police Department has formed partnership agreements with the UCSC Police, so off-campus party violations can have on-campus consequences.

The student members of the coalition are playing a major role in guiding the awareness campaign, said Jane Bogart, coordinator of SHOP. The gnome concept stemmed from discussions with students on campus, who said they prefer to go to smaller parties.

Student residential assistant Edgar Nuñez said he has gotten a good reaction to wearing his “Just Say Gnome” t-shirt. “Everyone was super receptive. Everyone wanted the cool t-shirt,” he said. 

Tips on holding a safe and legal party are included in a “Just Say Gnome” bochure available at the press conference, which included Health Center staff member Eleanor Gillis in a gnome costume. Copies of the brochure will be available in the SHOP office in the basement of the Health Center.

Campus CURB will also be monitoring actions by police, including DUI enforcement, party patrols to disperse unruly crowds, and enforcement of laws prohibiting alcohol sales to minors. The resulting data will help to evaluate and develop science-based prevention strategies.

For more information on the program, call Jane Bogart at (831) 459-4679 or e-mail her at jbogart@ucsc.edu.

 

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