By Alisa Johnson
There is no easy solution to this problem, and it is extremely frustrating. Durham Neighborhoods United has identified 22 active houses in seven of our neighborhoods. Having lived next to an illegal fraternity for two years, I would love a quick fix. There is none. This problem has take years to develop, and it will take years to eradicate. We will have to attack it on a number of fronts, in a number of ways, with as much focus and determination as we can muster.
Look to the Durham Neighborhoods United Protocol for dealing with Duke fraternity houses and I urge all of you affected by disruptive parties to use it. The protocol is the result of eight months of meetings with residents from neighborhoods dealing with this issue and members of the city council, the Duke Office of Student Affairs, NIS, the DPD, the Durham City-County Planning Department, QOL, and the Inter-Neighborhood Council. It is not a magic bullet, but it is an important first step. Its goal is to bring problem houses to the attention of Duke and the city through various agencies, which will allow them to apply pressure to the students and, in some cases, the landlords, in a variety of ways. No one agency, outside of perhaps Duke, can force the students to stop hosting these parties. But residents and agencies acting in conjunction can make it much more difficult for them. This is not an end in itself; it is just a beginning.
In order to succeed, we need participation–people willing to call the police to report noise violations and underage drinking, to contact the Office of Student Affairs, and to share their experiences and frustrations with city officials. Thanks to those who have followed the protocol, we have the attention of the city and the media. Council members Schewel, Moffitt and Davis have agreed to come and observe any parties to which they are invited. The DCC Planning Department is working to identify and fine these houses (last year they were able to identify two). But numbers matter—the more people involved, the more this becomes a priority—for the city and for Duke.
DNU will be hosting two important events this fall—one on the protocol, and another on the legal alternatives for residents living next to these houses. I will let you know the dates of the workshops when they have been finalized—they will be informative. We will also be holding events in the spring. Please know that we are determined to work for as long as necessary to find a solution to this problem.
If we—the neighborhoods of Durham—work together, we can change this. It won’t be easy. But it can be done.