The Eugene City Council hearing at the Lane County Courthouse had an especially collegiate feel Monday night.
Nearly 100 University of Oregon students attended the meeting to voice their concerns about the controversial social host ordinance that cracks down on unruly, alcohol-fueled parties
Students who were unable to enter due to the room reaching capacity waited outside the council chambers.
Mayor Kitty Piercy addressed the students at one point, citing that the audible “snaps” they would offer up after a sentence or argument which they approved were undesired in the city hall meeting, albeit an appreciated gesture.
Despite the statement, Piercy was happy to see students in attendance, saying she was glad they were a part of the process.
The students were joined by lawyers, landlords and residents of campus area neighborhoods to voice their opinions on the ordinance. If approved by the city council in January, the ordinance would require law enforcement to discipline “unruly gatherings.” Currently, the gatherings are defined as “a party or gathering of five or more persons where alcohol is served or consumed” that also causes something such as a noise disturbance or disorderly conduct.
Mary Jaeger, a resident of the south campus neighborhood, was quick to state during her two-minute speech that the entire student population is not to blame for the chronic unruly problems seen in the campus neighborhoods, but “a small number of inconsiderate individuals.”
Peter O’Day, a UO biology professor and resident of the south campus neighborhood, voiced his support for the ordinance.
“The increasing party-school notoriety the University of Oregon is becoming known for damages the recruiting of research assistants and grad students which we rely on to be a successful research institution,” O’Day said. “It’s time to compel [certain] students to accept responsibilities for their actions.”
While the hosts of the gatherings would be ultimately to blame, the civil penalties would fall on the landlords of the properties – a piece of the legislation which did not sit well with Eugene-area landlords.
Jesse Larkey, an owner of properties in the campus neighborhoods, said he fears the landlords will end up footing the bill for unruly parties.
“I can foresee tenants not being able to afford the $1,000 fine, and ultimately the landlord is responsible. How should landlords have to foot the bill for this?” Larkey said.
Along with Larkey and other landlords, ASUO members voiced their concerns for the ordinance. ASUO Sen. Lindy Mabuya noted that affordable housing is nearly impossible to find for students and should take priority over a social host ordinance.
ASUO Sen. Lamar Wise focused on the definition of a gathering.
“The fine itself is too high. The price of education now means that students live at a lower standard, and in closer quarters,” Wise said.
In his allotted time, Wise noted that a gathering of five or more is considered a gathering – therefore placing many students in this category should they choose to congregate only with their roommates.
The city council will vote on the ordinance on Jan. 28.