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Volume 69, Issue 57, Wednesday, November 12, 2003


Residents: Partying rampant at Bayou Oaks

By Portia-Elaine Gant
The Daily Cougar

Nearly a semester after Bayou Oaks opened its doors to Greek and non-Greek students, some non-Greeks are complaining because they say life in the complex that houses 255 students now revolves around drinking and partying -- a problem made worse because they say Greeks are given preferential treatment.

"I understand there are fraternities and sororities, and they want to have parties, but sometimes they are just inconsiderate to other residents, and it's wrong," said hotel and restaurant management junior Traci Smith, a Bayou Oaks resident.

"They'll be out there blasting music and making noise, and there are 20 million drunk people roaming around outside. There is a time for those things, but there is a cutoff point," she said.

Some apartment residents said housing authorities were ignoring their grievances in favor of the Greeks.

"It happens everywhere, not just with the Greeks. It's just that it's harder to deal with it knowing that the Greeks get away with it," Smith said. "Elsewhere, it would be handled and the noise would cease. I feel that if those were black student organizations, authorities would be less lenient."

The management staff at Bayou Oaks, which is owned by American Campus Communities, did not comment on student complaints, but UH Police Department Lt. Roger Byars said there has been no need for police intervention thus far.

"As far as noise complaints, if management received non-compliance (complaints) and the noise was disturbing the neighborhood, we would be contacted to intervene, but we have not had to do so," Byars said. "We just haven't had any trouble different from anywhere else on campus."

Some residents said they feel management and UHPD are playing a large role in the problems between Greek and non-Greek residents.

"I don't feel like UHPD or housing staff is on our side. We're not getting the same service," communication sophomore Camryn Barganier said. "I feel like (UHPD) is paid off to keep their mouths shut and not interfere.

"If I thought something could be done, I would say something because I'm a resident there, but I feel like the Greek housing gets more benefits than we do because they're in these organizations," Barganier said.

Greek residents say the noise, which non-Greek residents claim is the biggest problem, produces few complaints. They also said they do not perpetuate the stereotypes of fraternities or sororities.

"We do have parties. Sometimes they can be loud, and sometimes they can last a long time, but we don't get a lot of complaints," freshman Pi Kappa Alpha pledge William Gross said. "The stereotype is that we party seven days a week and drink a lot, but we don't have many parties here during the week. We usually go out to other places."

Chi Omega junior Iiesha Muckelroy said she was sympathetic to the non-Greek residents.

"I live by a (Greek) house. It's loud sometimes, and I see how people could be annoyed, especially in the apartments facing the windows," Muckelroy said. "Living here is still better than some of the other on campus places, and I've lived in the Towers, the Quad and Cougar Place."

Smith, who lived in the Quadrangle's Settegast Hall for two years before moving to Bayou Oaks, agreed and said her experience at the Quad prepared her for resident-hall living.

"The good outweighs the bad by far. Noise complaints are everywhere," Smith said. "The sole difference here is that it's acceptable for the Greeks, whereas we're heavily censured for our mistakes. Living on campus in the dorms was good for me, though, because it helps you learn patience. You learn how to compromise without getting taken advantage of."

Non-Greek residents also claim there is rampant alcohol consumption during Greek social events, but Byars said the rules concerning alcohol are no different than state laws, which are upheld throughout the University.

"The state law says that those under 21 can't drink. We have a security officer that patrols from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.," Byars said. "We don't have any more problems from any of the students at Bayou Oaks than we do anywhere else on campus."

Byars said the "students do a pretty good job" of complying with the housing rules and state laws, but other residents said Greek students most often defy a Harris County law that forbids drinking in public places after 2:15 a.m.

"I'm pretty certain that all the laws are not abided by, though, because they have alcohol at those parties, and they go on long past 2:15 a.m.," Barganier said.

Although residents like Smith said they believe the benefits of Bayou Oaks overshadow the behavior of the Greeks, others are adamant about making a change.

"I'm not staying there next fall, and my roommates won't either. We're not getting our money's worth. The service isn't good at all," Barganier said. "For what we're paying, that's definitely not acceptable."

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