Loud parties, littering, and public urination are some of the complaints residents in Lewiston, Maine, have made against Bates College students this fall. Now police are taking a new approach in some off-campus neighborhoods.
“It seems like a free-for-all,” said Gert Chassey, who has lived in a neighborhood near the campus for almost 50 years.
Chassey said more students are living in off-campus apartments in her area and it’s changed the neighborhood.
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“They have parties...loud talking... urinating in the streets and bushes,” she said.
Lewiston Police have heard the complaints, too.
“We want to make sure the students are aware of what the repercussions are,” said Lewiston Police Lieutenant David St. Pierre.
He said in the past, residents would call campus security with complaints involving students. But now, police are dealing with the situations directly.
St. Pierre said last weekend, police issued more than a dozen alcohol-related citations. They have also stepped up marked and unmarked patrols of the residential areas near Bates.
“I think that’s definitely a little more intimidating to Bates students,” said senior Brooke Drabkin. “It’s putting us a little bit on edge, but I think it’s important to be respectful of the community.”
The city council is also cracking down. Earlier this fall, the council passed an ordinance to restrict overnight parking in the area. On Tuesday, they will consider a new ordinance to impose fines and civil violations for “nuisance” parties, according to St. Pierre.
The first offense for hosting a nuisance party would be $100 and would increase for repeat violations.
“I think people forget what it was like when they were 20 or 21,” said Odelle Bowman, a neighbor who has no problem with the increase in college students in her neighborhood. “The students are great,” she said.
Bowman thinks the complaints about the students are overblown. While she notices the occasional red solo cup littered near her lawn, she said it comes with the territory.
“They’re college students — they’re not studying to be priests,” she said.
A spokesperson for Bates College said the school is working with police, neighbors and students to address concerns.
“Those work sessions and discussions have been productive, and we are hopeful that our collective effort will resolve our neighbors’ concerns,” a statement read.