Bonnet Shores is one of several towns that URI students take over during the school year. Photo by Anna Meassick
Nearby beach towns house a large population of University of Rhode Island students that choose to live off campus, and there has been a history of conflict with full-time residents.
A large population of the URI student body chooses to live off-campus in nearby beach towns such as Narragansett or Matunuck. These students will often rent houses with their friends that are typically right in the middle of neighborhoods and have older, full-time residents living on either side of them. Conflicts between the college students and residents have been around for a while, but they are becoming less and less common.
“Overall it is definitely better than it was in the past,” Narragansett Police Lieutenant Anthony Pelopida said. “I think the URI kids make an effort to try and reach out to anybody that is living next to them that are full-time residents. I think sometimes it just gets a little out of control with college kids.”
The general calls that Narragansett Police respond to involving college students are noise complaints from residents. Pelopida said at the beginning of his 23-year career in Narragansett, these complaints would commonly be in regards to out-of-hand gatherings in excess of 100 people.
Pelopida claims that today it is more common for these calls, as students gather after a night at the bar. Sometimes this can cause loud noises like music, car doors closing and other sounds late at night.
During the winter, the police department gets around four noise complaints a night on Friday and Saturday nights, but in the warmer months around eight to 10 calls are routine.
“I was in college, we were all in college, I get it,” Pelopida said. “You have a couple friends over, that leads to a couple more and the next thing you know you have 50 people in your house and it’s two in the morning. And your neighbor might have to get up to go to work the next day.”
The main reason big parties have gone down, as well as overall noise complaints, is the orange sticker policy that the town implements. According to Pelopida, if members of a rented house break the law by being excessively loud with more than five unrelated people over, the house can be issued an orange sticker.
The sticker is both a physical print placed on to the house and into the department’s system that puts the house on the radar. If another incident occurs at a stickered house, the renters can receive a fine of $500 each.
In addition to this policy, URI students seem to have become more respectful of their neighbors and having a good relationship with them.
“The general vibe is definitely like a nervous or concerned feeling but at the same time friendly from the people around us,” said junior Anthony Salta, who lives in a rental house with his friends. “Our neighbors even said to us when we first met them that they were nervous that if a bunch of college kids moved in next to them they will party all the time, but after meeting them I feel like those nerves went away and our neighbors are very friendly.”
Like Salta, many students living off-campus are making it a priority to form good relationships with their neighbors and be respectful to them. Salta said that when they first moved into the house they went to meet the neighbors and introduce themselves, and that they try to not be too loud late at night.