UNC and the Town of Chapel Hill saw 23 registered parties during the spring 2018 semester after the launch of their "Party, Police Free" program, which gives students the opportunity to register off-campus parties, and they plan to grow the program.
Aaron Bachenheimer, executive director of off-campus student life and community partnerships, worked with Chapel Hill to develop this program after seeing its success at other institutions like the University of Colorado Boulder.
Bachenheimer said UNC and Chapel Hill were pleased that students found out about the program and successfully utilized it.
Registering a party consists of two parts – registering the party online and meeting in-person with Bachenheimer to complete registration and discuss noise-prevention techniques and ways to create a healthier party environment.
Then, if the Chapel Hill Police Department receives a noise complaint about a registered party, a courtesy text message or phone call is made to the registered number. Law enforcement is only dispatched if a second complaint is made after a 20-minute grace period.
Bachenheimer said the program strives to keep students from having negative interactions with law enforcement, optimize the use of law enforcement resources and help students party responsibly.
UNC and Chapel Hill are hoping to increase student participation and awareness of the program. Bachenheimer said they were pleased with the 23 registered parties during the program’s first semester, noting that the numbers were consistent with the launches of similar programs.
“Our goal would be to grow the program and to continue to make sure students have the information they need to make informed choices about having parties," Bachenheimer said.
Elinor Landess, director of the Campus and Community Coalition with the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, was involved in helping the town and University design this program. She said the positive student feedback from last semester makes her hopeful for the program’s future.
“By asking students to register their parties, they are that much more mindful about the environment they’re creating in their home,” Landess said. “They’re much more mindful about keeping the environment safe.”
Foster Machicote, a senior at UNC, said his experience with registering house parties with “Party, Police Free” ultimately lowered the anxiety and stress that can come with planning a party.
“Law enforcement causes a lot of anxiety for a lot of people,” Machicote said. “So knowing that the Chapel Hill Police Department is on our side and is understanding of college students… it shows that they’re not trying to work against us, they’re trying to work with us.”
Machicote said the largest problem he sees the program facing is lack of awareness among students.
Landess said the ultimate goal is for party registration with the program to become a customary procedure for UNC students who are living off campus and planning to have a party.
“Moving beyond, we hope that this is just a part of life at UNC,” Landess said. “That you know that when you live off campus, this is what you do when you want to have a party and you want to be smart about it.”
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