AMHERST, Mass. – Party Smart, a pilot program encouraging off-campus UMass Amherst students to register gatherings with the Amherst Police to reduce noise complaints and increase student responsibility at social gatherings, is off to a successful start, according to representatives of the Campus and Community Coalition to Reduce High-Risk Drinking (CCC).
Since its launch in September 2016, the program has registered 169 parties, with 13 receiving a courtesy phone call. No follow-up responses were required by police.
“We are pleased with the results of the pilot, as it has cut down on our call volume and response time,” said Amherst Police Captain Jennifer Gundersen, who is co-chair of the CCC’s municipal strategies committee. “The Party Smart program allows our officers to respond to more serious offences and gives students the opportunity to self-monitor and take responsibility for their parties.”
Modelled after successful programs at Colorado State and the University of Colorado Boulder, Party Smart is designed to improve neighbourhood relations by reducing noise complaints. Students must register in person at the UMass Off-Campus Student Center, located in the Student Union, where they also receive peer-to-peer training and tips on being good neighbours and responsible party hosts. The training helps students in hosting gatherings that don’t become noisy or out-of-hand. If the Amherst Police receive a noise complaint about a registered gathering, the host receives one courtesy phone call and is provided 20 minutes to quiet the event or disband the party. And it’s working, the CCC says. Students participating in the program not only have managed their parties better, they are also learning to engage more positively with police and neighbours. Among those who did receive a courtesy call, interactions with police were described as positive and helpful.
“Student buy-in for the program has been significant, with nine out of 10 students reporting they would register their future parties and recommending the program to other students,” said Sally Linowski, associate dean for off-campus student life and community education. “Peer education is a major component of the success of the program thus far. We are very pleased, we and look forward to refining and potentially expanding the availability of the program in the future.”
The Campus and Community Coalition to Reduce High-Risk Drinking works to promote responsible decision-making about alcohol and other drugs. The CCC identifies factors supporting high-risk and illegal drinking, analyses data, and implements proven and promising strategies to create positive change. With community and campus advocates, it seeks to improve the health, safety and well-being of our communities. More information can be found at www.umass.edu/ccc.