Local residents and students should talk out noise expectations rather than resorting to the police
Fifty-five decibels is not very loud; the University guide for off-campus housing describes the mark as “the level of loud talking.” This is what passes for noise pollution in Charlottesville – although some, like music critic Simon Reynolds, argue public noise generates “civic vitality.” We don’t need to shout about definitions, but it’s worth saying that locals should not take a vendetta to uphold current policy and instead allow police forces to allocate resources in ways more beneficial.
To give a history: The current regulation restricts individuals from being louder than 55 decibels during the hours from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. In August, City Council considered legislation that would make fines higher and charges more severe for such violations; Council rejected it. But it did prescribe that police take a harder stance on the issue. Such vigilance has been evident – there were eight noise citations near the University during the first weekend of school.
Some groups have found this cracking down agreeable. The Daily Progress wrote a late August editorial saying Council was right to ask for tougher enforcement. The Venable Neighborhood Association, which has for years championed tougher noise policy, spoke through its president, Erica Goldfarb, who said in an interview “we just want [students to] behave better as neighbors.” But maybe it’s not students who are being bad neighbors.
The Daily Progress decided to take an adult point of view: “College students can adjust their schedules for partying, or abuse their bodies with too little sleep if they choose. Neighbors might not have any such option — or desire.” Yet, speaking as students, we can say the party schedule is pretty much set. On a couple streets on weekend nights there will be houses amped up. A noise complaint would have to incriminate much of the student body to be cited correctly.
Nor should this become a debate about who was here first – the University was rowdy before all of us came here – and neither is this an apologetic for the culture of drinking. Instead, we should acknowledge that noise complaints are often arbitrary and will only chip away at students – who are not always the wealthy lot they are put out to be – and do little else besides putting an unnecessary burden on the police.
Besides noise, there are also crimes in Charlottesville, and we should not have to draw police attention when a civil conversation could have more of an impact than any fine or telephone call.