Loud nights, civil rights, uncivil fights
Noise violations lead to parents' concern about student liberties
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 30, 2012 14:04
When juniors Evan McDaniel and Mackey Landy received a noise ordinance in the mail they weren’t expecting, they called Burlington police to resolve what they thought was a mistake.
While the noise violation did not take place in their apartment, an officer told them they still had to pay the fine.
Three parents sent an email to University officials Feb. 20 seeking support for student rights after receiving the noise violation — however, they did not get the response they were looking for.
“Our concern is that the University is more concerned with community relations than protecting the civil rights of its students,” one parent email stated.
The Burlington police told the students that the officer had the legal authority to cite all of the students, despite not having any involvement with the party, McDaniel said.
The next morning, the student’s father was assured by UVM officials that someone from the University would be calling the Burlington Police Department to ensure his daughter’s safety for the remainder of the semester, he said.
Burlington police ultimately addressed the issue quickly and sufficiently, the email stated.
After months of waiting without action from the University, the parents drafted the three page email because they believed their children’s civil rights were being violated and wanted the University to protect its students.
“We encourage you both to examine the treatment that your students are receiving in the city of Burlington, and that the University administration forcefully protect the civil liberties of its students,” the letter concluded.
The University’s Response
President John Bramley stated in an email to the parents Feb. 21 that this was an issue to be taken up with the city, not the University.
“The University is concerned about the safety and well-being of all of its students,” Bramley stated.
The University’s involvement in this issue isn’t appropriate because the ordinance is not central to the wellbeing of the University and does not just apply to students, stated Tom Gustafson, vice president of student life, in an email sent to UVM officials Dec. 9.
“The University only takes on legal challenges if the legislation or ordinance interferes with the operations and mission of the institution itself,” he stated.
The parents clarified their concerns and asked a number of direct questions to Bramley in two Feb. 25 emails.
The parents stated they