City of Eugene to address noise complaints through UO Restorative Justice program

If you live in a house or apartment in West University and you’ve received multiple noise complaints, you and your roommates might just find yourselves in front of the University of Oregon’s Restorative Justice panel. 

During a Eugene City Council work session on November 19, Presiding Judge Wayne Allen proposed expanding restorative justice approaches beyond Social Host Ordinance violations to address noise complaints in residences near the UO. 

The UO’s Conflict Resolution Department typically works with the City of Eugene to mediate disputes between students and the greater community. But outside of charges including theft and vandalism, Social Host Ordinance violations were the only neighborhood disturbances handled (partially) through the UORJ program — and according to Allen, they’re on the decline. 

“For some reason we’re not getting a lot of unruly gathering cases,” said Allen. “There’s a very anxious panel at the university that wants to see more cases come their way.” 

A case brought through the UORJ program can be addressed in a number of ways depending on the dispute, but all of them seek to show the impact of the student’s choices to those affected.

The process holds significant appeal for neighbors of noisy student residences that would rather keep their noise complaints anonymous, and the panel will work with the student in question, with or without the victim’s cooperation. 

Councilman Alan Zelenka, who represents the area surrounding campus, said that the reason for the drop in Social Host Ordinance violations is likely twofold: neighbors opting to file noise complaints in lieu of unruly gatherings out of guilt for the potential repercussions against the students, and that the ordinance might be doing its job. 

“[The social host ordinance] served its purpose by scaring people out of illegal activity,” said Zelenka. “So there’s been a drop-off in people hosting unruly gatherings over and over again.” 

Allen said that while the university has “stepped up to the plate” in taking care of community violations, he hopes that administration will be even more proactive — especially after the changes that were made to the Student Conduct Code in September 2014. 

Under the conduct code’s jurisdiction section, which details the conditions and location under which the conduct code applies to students, “the University may extend jurisdiction if the alleged conduct would have violated the Student Conduct Code if the conduct had occurred on campus.” 

Follow Dahlia Bazzaz on Twitter: @dahliabazzaz 

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Dahlia Bazzaz

Dahlia Bazzaz

Dahlia is the 2015-2016 Editor in Chief of the Emerald. Before becoming EIC, she worked as a crime reporter and columnist. She has also interned with Oregon Public Broadcasting.

When she's not in the Emerald newsroom, she enjoys listening to podcasts and figuring out ways to meet Amy Poehler.

You can contact Dahlia via email: [email protected]