Change the Town of Elon's new noise ordinance

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As of January 2019, the Town of Elon Board of Aldermen (Town Council) has passed an ordinance which effectively punishes the act of partying around the Elon University campus. We, the students, work hard and diligently on our academics during the week to keep up the academic standards of the University and to further our education. At the same time, our social life is just as important to student life as academics; the social life at Elon has been a huge factor in attracting well-rounded prospective students, who not only work hard academically, but also develop important networking and social skills during their time at Elon University. In addition, social events allow students to ease stress and enjoy a healthy balance between work and fun.

The passing of the revised Section 13.45 in the Code of Ordinances effectively punishes any act of partying with music played through a speaker. While the previous code required police officers to issue a warning before a citation for noise complaints, the new code states that the first and all violations of noise will constitute a misdemeanor, be punishable by fine ($50), court date (~$100 and community service), and / or possible imprisonment.

By passing this new bill, the Town of Elon effectively shuts down all off-campus parties at Elon University, and punishes those who host them. These off-campus parties have been happening at the University for decades, and are an integral part of the student life. Elon University has become such a popular school in recent times due to it’s special balance of strong academics and fun weekend social events.

This ordinance will effectively end off-campus weekend social events, no doubt persuading prospective students to attend other schools, where no such overbearing rules exist; a school where students can have fun without worry of large fines or misdemeanors on their record for simple noise complaints. In addition, current students and recent alumni are likely not to donate to a school whose student environment has changed so much since the time they knew and enjoyed at the University.

It is likely that due to this ordinance, students wishing to continue off-campus parties may expand into the Burlington area, forcing students attending those parties to venture further away from campus, effectively increasing the risk for unsafe off-campus situations, rather than decreasing.

According to the Elon University 2018-19 fact book, Elon students who live off-campus make up 16% of the town population, and most likely greater than 80% of the population in areas where this noise ordinance is called into question. In many cases, it is in fact the police officers themselves who call the noise complaints, not even local Elon neighbors.

To the students of Elon University, especially those who live off-campus, we have the right to attend Elon Town Meetings to address this problem. If we want to change this overbearing ordinance, we need to band together and attend. The schedule of meetings can be found here. If we put our minds together, we can be heard and restore this school to the way it used to be, the way it should be.