Archive for Sunday, February 5, 2006

Landlords telling KU to lay down party law

Students should be penalized at school for rowdiness off campus, some argue

February 5, 2006


Lawrence landlord Serina Hearn will say this about Kansas University students: They can do math.

At least when it comes to figuring out how to split up a fine for violating the city's noise ordinance or disorderly house regulations, Hearn has found several of her tenants have become rather astute arithmetically.

"They just sit there and do the math," said Hearn, who owns or manages about 25 properties near KU. "They've figured out that if you have a party of 300 people, you just collect five bucks from everybody, and that will cover your fines. It is just the price of admission."

Hearn even has started issuing her own fines to students. Many of her leases contain a clause that allows her to fine a tenant $200 each time a police officer responds to a complaint at one of her homes. One house racked up $2,800 in fines from Hearn in a one-year period.

"They just paid it," said Tony Backus, Hearn's husband and real estate partner. "They said it was a good party. It's not about the money for a lot of these kids."

Hearn is convinced that someone with a heavier hammer - the university - needs to enter the equation. KU says it's not a parent, but other universities have started experimenting with discipline for off-campus problems.

Not a parent

At other universities, campus administrators receive weekly reports on university students who are issued citations off campus. Penalties imposed by the university include letters to parents, suspensions or expulsions for repeat offenders.

"There has to be a consequence beyond just the financial," said Hearn, who is lobbying KU and City Hall to adopt similar measures. "It has to be something like, 'Oh, I'm not going to graduate on time.' That will get their attention."

Landlords Tony Backus, left, and his wife, Serina Hearn, review violations and fines of their tenants. Hearn is proposing that the city and KU create a program that would allow KU officials to discipline students for off-campus behavior.

Landlords Tony Backus, left, and his wife, Serina Hearn, review violations and fines of their tenants. Hearn is proposing that the city and KU create a program that would allow KU officials to discipline students for off-campus behavior.

But KU officials acknowledge that hasn't been their philosophy.

"We certainly try to teach students to be good students and be a part of the community, but we're not the enforcement agency. That hasn't been our role," said Todd Cohen, a spokesman for the university.

Cohen said a change in philosophy was "intriguing," but it would need to happen after an extensive discussion by university leaders and students.

"I think there is a legitimate question about how much of a parent the university should be," Cohen said.

Carrots and sticks

Gail Shampnois, director of the office of student and community relations at the University of Vermont, said many universities were abandoning the 1960s type of philosophies that essentially let students live and learn when it comes to off-campus troubles.

"That really is not good for the students or the neighbors," Shampnois said.

About 10 years ago, administrators at the 10,000-student university began to notice they had a sour relationship with city leaders in Burlington, Vt. - a souring that culminated with a downtown incident in which students set trash binsablaze.

Today, the university is recognized for having some of the more innovative programs to foster positive relations between students and residents.

The university formed a community coalition that meets monthly and includes representatives from the city, neighborhoods, students and campus administrators. An outgrowth of that effort has been a program that appoints a student who lives in a neighborhood to serve as an official liaison between students and other neighborhood residents. The university also offers a small grant program to support students who work on neighborhood projects, such as tree planting or cleanup.

"We try to get students to drop the attitude that this is just a place I'm going to live for a year," Shampnois said. "We try to encourage them to be involved in the neighborhood."

But university officials do have disciplinary means at their disposal if problems occur. The process starts with a stern letter and can culminate in expulsion.

Two strikes, you're out

The University of Colorado is considered to have one of the tougher policies in the country.

Robert Maust, chairman of the university's Standing Committee on Substance Abuse, said city police officers noted on every ticket they issued whether the violator was a university student. The university receives that information each week. Students who receive citations for violating any alcohol-related law are put into the university's disciplinary system.

After the first citation, students are mandated to participate in a six-hour education class. If the student receives a second citation in a one-year period, the school policy calls for the student to be suspended for one semester.

Maust said the university suspended about 125 students in 2005. He said students feared the suspensions, in part because tuition and other fees are not refundable. That means some students lose $5,000 to $15,000 because of a suspension.

"The city police tell us over and over again that when students get stopped, they plead with the officers to not tell the university," Maust said. "They'll pay any fine, but they don't want the university to know. Our process is quicker, and the consequences are more serious."

Hearn's advocacy of such programs is attracting some support at City Hall.

"I believe that town and gown working together can be more effective in dealing with some of these drinking and party issues than us trying to do it on our own," City Commissioner David Schauner said. "What I hear from people who live in the area around the university is that our system could work a lot better."


corporate_sleaze 12 years, 4 months ago

Well then... an eye for an eye Ms. Hearn. The university should also lay down law and apply a heavy hammer to the sleazy, irresponsible land lords in Lawrence, too.

theifoncross 12 years, 4 months ago

i agree corpsleez.
Sounds like Hearnia calls the police herself to collect extra money. I think that should be a crime.

25 properties!!! We as a student population should boycott this type of slum lord. they wanna fine students an extra 15 k by getting kicked out of skool: then lets not rent from them!!! Spread the word.

But maybe these Landlords are just trying to protect there investments, I wonder if they Own interests in Bars?

I think this needs more attention and sunlight on who is pushing this strict punishment

espeasially those who own on Ohio st and skrew kids all the time by doing major work while they charge students full rent plus utilities , while there workmen leave doors and windows open, unlocked and Steal the tentants tools because they lost theirs and decided there is no way a student could have a tool box of their own, even if there family runs a local toolshop.

What about all the old people who walk all over town on the way to games with open containers stumbling across 9thst with beer in hand blocking traffic why not crack down on them and the Ally parties land lords sell parking to and allow drinking in public why not fine the land lords for that as a conspirace to commit .....

Sounds like Hearnia calls the police herself to collect extra money. I think that should be a crime.

25 properties!!! We as a student population should boycott this type of slum lord. they wanna fine students an extra 15 k by getting kicked out of skool: then lets not rent from them!!! Spread the word.

But maybe these Landlords are just trying to protect there investments, I wonder if they Own interests in Bars?

I think this needs more attention and sunlight on who is pushing this strict punishment

theifoncross 12 years, 4 months ago

top of the LJworld you can click Classified, then type in names for property values. Free info on this website about the landlords

LAWRENCE 1941 * Mass Hearn Serina A $600,740 $590,000 LAWRENCE 1539 Vermont Hearn Serina $189,200 $201,400 LAWRENCE 1247 1/2 Kentucky Hearn Serina $106,900 $108,100 LAWRENCE 1223 Ohio Hearn Serina $225,600 $237,400 LAWRENCE 1127 #01-7 Ohio Hearn Serina $257,200 $259,000 LAWRENCE 1337 Kentucky Hearn Serina A $191,700 $204,300 LAWRENCE 1001 Rhode Island Hearn Serina $118,200 $124,800 LAWRENCE 1446 Kentucky Hearn Serina A $138,600 $146,780 LAWRENCE 2211 Willow Creek Ln Hearn Serina A $173,890 $187,980

theifoncross 12 years, 4 months ago

Got to go to Church. I think i will bring this up for discussion, see how others feel about this exploitation of students. god bless you all

anotherpointofview 12 years, 4 months ago

You might want to consider how you will feel 20 years from now, when you're the next-door neighbor and another college student is holding over-populated, loud parties that last until the wee hours. It's called being considerate of others, the way you want others to be considerate of you when you're trying to study for an exam.

As for the university not wanting to be the parent, sorry, but you are. Your students may be legal adults, but they're away from home for the first time and still have a lot to learn. And you do say that you're in the business of helping students learn.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 4 months ago

OR the LPD could enforce any existing ordinance related to whatever infraction. Stiffer fines perhaps? A small amount of lock up time? Stricter enforcement is likely the key with maximum fines?

This landlord does not support the 3 unrelated ordinance.

The school being the parent is a long shot. Students spend a lot of money in this town and parents living elsewhere cannot do much regarding their childs behavior.

I do not believe they are slumlords however never lived in one of their properties. They have actually restored some very nice properties in the area. They are not hard to get along with...

Hong_Kong_Phooey 12 years, 4 months ago

Call their parents?? These are adults we are talking about! I really disagree with this proposal. The University is an educational institution, not a law enforcement one. There is already a system in place to deal with off-campus situations. It is called the municipal/district courts. If people don't like what happens for discipline then try getting the punishments altered.

ColBond 12 years, 4 months ago

Meadowbrook has a 'three strikes' policy. If authorities are called 3 times for disturbances in a year, you get evicted. Probably a bit more effective than fines.

mefirst 12 years, 4 months ago

KU can't fix what has become a part of our culture--the lack of respect for others and a complete disregard for consequences.

Those two cancers are running rampant among drive down Tennessee on a Sunday morning will show you exactly how little people care about their communities and those who live in them. The litter is appaling.

Face it--kids don't give a rat's @ss. Why? Because their parents failed to teach them basic respect for other people.

KU can't teach it or fix it.

Stephen Roberts 12 years, 4 months ago

I think if KU is going to create this type of policy they also need to educate the students on the landlords and their tendancies. For example, letting students how know this person operates and the properties she owns. Students can then decide if they want to deal with her and her tactics.

Maybe if enough students know about this they can hurt her where is counts- in the pocketbook.

But lets be realistic, I don't KU should even consider this because of a couple reasons. I am more concerned about what would happen to athlete. At the small college I went to athletes go away with almost anything- even worse our college sucked at a lot of sports. The well behaved athletes actually were better people and were taught better by their parants.

If they instituted this KU can change their motto to KU the only place were you can smoke a little pot, get a fine but can get kick out for having too many loud parties!!! Sounds fun sign me up.

missmagoo 12 years, 4 months ago

bwahahaha thanks for the laugh this morning.

Good luck regulating the lives of 20,000 students off campus.

Jamesaust 12 years, 4 months ago

'"I think there is a legitimate question about how much of a parent the university should be," Ted Cohen, University spokesman said.'

That's true but doesn't seem to fit with reality. The University can play parent or it can take a hands-off/they're-adults approach. Universities, including KU, do neither but rather take both approaches whenever convenient to its own interest.

I'm sure KU doesn't want to take on any policing role where it doesn't have to do so - like the scenario mentioned in this article. (Indeed, would KU be taking on legal liability for what it failed to do if it were to start doing anything?).

Yet, universities are famous for trying to police interactions, including speech, among students - even off campus. KU's short-sighted, and ultimately destructive, approach to alcohol is also worthy of note.

Apparently, noise pollution is the unexplored territory of political correctness. KU isn't going to do anything about it until it becomes trendy.

Godot 12 years, 4 months ago

KU should go back to requiring students to live on campus their Freshman and Sophomore years. That would solve a lot of the problems we're having.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 4 months ago

They used to be banned from having autos, too. That'd cure a lot of the traffic problems.

delta77 12 years, 4 months ago

Again with the whiners who live in neighborhoods close to the University complaining about college students. If you don't like the atmosphere, move away from the campus!

Good thing KU has such a strong student government - something like this will never happen.

dviper 12 years, 4 months ago

Maybe I'm looking at this too simply, but it seems to me that the problem is directly with the landlords, tenants, police and courts. If this same exact problem was occurring in the Foxfire subdivision on Jeffries Court, I bet it would be stopped immediately. Why?..... Because the police would be called, and charges would be filed. If it happened a second time the police would be called and charges would be filed this time against both the tenants and landlord.

It seems to me that there are plenty of laws and ordinances already on the books. Why don't the residents of these neighborhoods call the police, file charges and prosecute /sue these tenants and landlords? I guess the local DA would have to prosecute ::.. Is this a problem with the local DA?

Why don't the landlords Hearn and Backus evict the tenants and terminate the lease of these party house tenants? Maybe they don't really care! Maybe they just want the rental income and don't give a damn about the neighborhood. These extra fines they charge sure seem like a good source of income, but obviously aren't a solution as even they admit too. Dragging KU into this seems silly, and irresponsible.

I believe if a tough stand on this was taken and people (tenants and landlords) were prosecuted / sued with stiff penalties, the problem would be significantly reduced.

mefirst 12 years, 4 months ago

Delta 77--let me guess, you were raised with the philosophy (right wing) that all problems can be solved by moving away from them.

Don't like U.S. foreign policy--move to another country. Don't like selfish, spoiled college students...move away from campus. I'll bet the tax payers who own property in those communities were there LONG BEFORE you and yours, and will continue to live there after you're a distant, hazy memory.

The same philosophy could apply to you y'know...want to party with your fraternity bros and be total @sshole$, move to another town.

Just because your daddy makes a lot of money and you live in a big fraternity on campus does not make you a prince. You are accountable to the people with whom you share this community. If you don't like it, move to a community where people don't give a $hit.

kistie3 12 years, 4 months ago

Getting back to the original argument made by the landlord... KU is research University, I don't know why places like CU have overstepped their bounds, but a universities job is not to police its students!
Students, stop renting from people who charge you for misc. things that communities offer at no charge...what if you were attacked at home, or had a break in, would she still charge you for having the cops show up? Take a stand!

middleoftheroad 12 years, 4 months ago

Who gave the university the power to govern off-campus parties? Last I checked, we paid taxes to a group of capable individuals to monitor and maintain our laws...this group is called the Lawrence Police Department. Let them do their job!

Shame on the landlords, the LJW and everyone else who feels the need to take their frustrations out on the university. KU provides this town with so much (tourism revenue, quality jobs, etc) and on a regular basis, there are "news" articles ridiculing the university for being irresponsible, bowing out of responsibility and every other ridiculous accusation possible.

Let's take a little journey...on this journey, let's imagine those who are causing problems are the ones who are being held accountable. On this journey, blame isn't placed on a large entity who can't possibly have control. On this journey, each of us is socially responsible for our actions. Maybe, just maybe, the university isn't the problem. Maybe it's those who are wrongly pointing fingers. Maybe it's the landlords who are unable to control their tennants. Once the "wrong-doers" have the finger pointed at them, they might take action. But while the fingers are being pointed at the university, these students won't change.

gccs14r 12 years, 4 months ago

Most students are under 21. If the houses are collecting a cover charge, they're in violation of more than just a noise ordinance.

I agree with the community service/eviction/expulsion model (in addition to whatever fines or jail time are specified for providing alcohol to minors and selling alcohol without a license). It's much more difficult to buy your way out of that kind of punishment.

yourworstnightmare 12 years, 4 months ago

How about if the landlords maintain their properties in good condition so that they can charge higher rents. This will price students out of the market and problem solved.

The landlords seem to have no problem taking the students' money and spending little on propery maintenance. However, they don't want the problems associated with low-rent, low-maintenance student-occupied housing.

Make up your minds.

yourworstnightmare 12 years, 4 months ago

Agreed with middleoftheroad.

This article is for the ""blame KU first" crowd.

Spades 12 years, 4 months ago

The landlords have the ability to evict their tennants if they choose to. If the cops are called, hey, evict the people. Don't make KU become parents to the students who live off-campus. They are exactly that, 'off-campus.' What happens 'off campus' is not the concern of KU.

Harry_Manback 12 years, 4 months ago

I am a college student myself, and after living in this town for 3 years, I know that you just don't live on Tennessee or Ohio, etc. if you want to have quiet neighbors. Don't landlords realize most of these large properties will be used for parties?

Also, I am an adult, as are other college students. You should hold us, not our parents accountable for disturbances. The policy at Colorado is also ridiculous in my opinion. What happens outside of school shouldn't have an impact on my education.

I've had more problems with landlords, than the other way around. I think we need to start holding them accountable for the ways they rip off students as well.

Harry_Manback 12 years, 4 months ago

Godot and Bozo and ljreader- that is ridiculous that you would suggest that KU students must live on campus and not have cars for the 1st few years. We are adults, not little children. I never lived on campus, and I've had a car the whole time I've been at KU. I've never been in trouble for anything here, and neither have any of my friends at KU.

I, and many other students, give back to this community in ways you probably don't even know about (working, volunteering, simply attending the school, renting here, shopping at your businesses, etc.) If it weren't for the university, this town wouldn't be sh*t.

I'm glad that you are not in charge at KU, and like delta said, KU has a strong student government so things like that could never happen. I don't think it's right for people to be loud all the time either (I've had to deal with it boyfriend and I had to move twice to escape bothersome neighbors,) but it's not KU's responsibility. College students are ADULTS!

gccs14r 12 years, 4 months ago

"We are adults, not little children."

If that were true, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

I've seen lots and lots of KU students over the last decade. None of them are adults, not even after they hit the workforce. American children don't begin to grow up until they get to be about 27 years old and they don't finish growing up until they're 30. Then they're adults.

yourworstnightmare 12 years, 4 months ago

Actually, the idea that students must live on campus for a few years is not a bad one and deserves more thought. Many state universities require this (or at least did in the past).

Indeed, students are adults and can make their own decisions, so they could decide to attend KU or not.

Harry_Manback 12 years, 4 months ago

gccs, Well, the law sees you as an adult at 18, although you might not think it's till someone is 30. (Unrelated, but under your logic my parents were children when they had me, which I think is kind of funny!)

All I'm saying is that KU students are adults in the law's eye, and they should be treated as such. If they break the law, then they should be charged by the police, not have phone calls home to mommy and daddy or to KU.
Granted, a lot of KU students are very immature, but why must a few bad ones ruin it for everyone?

Also, if KU required students to live on-campus their first year, it would turn away a lot of people (especially transfer students, like I was.)

yourworstnightmare 12 years, 4 months ago

The Squealers versus the Seasicks. I could go either way.

middleoftheroad 12 years, 4 months ago

"...the idea that students must live on campus for a few years is not a bad one..."

Where would they live? As we are all aware, the university doesn't have enough land for housing to accomodate students who are living on campus now. How much more residential land would have to be bought to accomodate this ridiculous notion?

I think that's about the only thought that idea deserves.

bthom37 12 years, 4 months ago

This woman chooses not to evict these problem tenants, and instead collect her 200/incident, then complains about them.

If they were so bad, why didn't you evict them?!?

J Good Good 12 years, 4 months ago

We don't live in a "student" neighborhood - there is one rental on the block that is usually student(s). We usually have had great kids there, but the guy now creates quite a bit more havoc and trash than the rest of us on the block put together.

I've always thought that if his parents (I've met them) knew what a butthead he is down here on their dime, things might change. I don't think you count as an adult when Mom and Dad are supporting your lifestyle as an idiot.....

tpatric 12 years, 4 months ago

As usual, money talks; otherwise the City and KU wouldn't be listening.

lunacydetector 12 years, 4 months ago

a lot of KU students have a total disregard to others, especially private property. it is the first time they are away from home and the watchful eye of mom and dad. i think it is a grand idea if the university sent a stern letter to the parents of these students who did bad things.

it will be a swift kick in the b*tt for a lot of students to clean their act up. i applaud this idea. it is all about responsibility. the KU students who do bad things need to own up to it with their parents or their trust fund administrators.

christie 12 years, 4 months ago

I'd like to see every renter have to post a bond of $2000.00 and every citation by police to their residence costs them $500.00. After they have expended their bond then run 'em out of town as riff-raff.

And as far as students 'charging' entry fees to their parties??? get real ... I'm sure the tax-man would have a field day with these people. The cops are powerless to stop the kinds of parties that go on, or they just don't care.

christie 12 years, 4 months ago


Make landlords post a $50,000 bond on every property they rent, and then upon conviction of various ordinances fine the OWNER $5,000 a pop. Now THAT I can live with.

carolb 12 years, 4 months ago

KU students should not be treated differently. While KU students create most of the problem, there are others who have rowdy parties. Laws against disruptive behavior, disturbing the peace, and underage drinking should be enforced equally. I'm surprised this approach hasn't ended up in court.

It is not up to the community to manage rental properties. However, the city should support tougher eviction clauses in leases.

Community service is too soft. The behavior is disruptive and destructive. Jail time is more appropriate.

GreenEyedBlues 12 years, 4 months ago

This landlady needs to muster her gall and evict.

If it's such a big problem, she should have a strong idea of the perpetrators. Embarking on a Quixotic quest to quell the uproarious parties via the University is ridiculous. KU shouldn't be held responsible for policing other peoples' properties by threatening their tenant's academic progress. That said, many who have lived ON campus can attest to seeing/attending far rowdier and noisier parties.

College students, whether you care to believe it or not, are adults. As such, sending letters home to Mom & Dad would be an obstruction of privacy. If grown adults choose to act like A-holes and disrupt their neighbors, they should face real-world adult consequences. Chances are, if they're hosting parties wild enough to pique neighborhood complaints, their grades aren't that good anyway.

StirrrThePot 12 years, 4 months ago

Require freshmen and sophomores to live on campus? They're probably not the ones throwing the parties, just attending. What about the other half?

I loved Hearn's suggestion of KU threatening not to graduate the offending students on time. That cracks me up--did she actually stop to think that most of those kids probably aren't graduating on time anyway? What's another semester or two? More time to live off mom and dad's bucks!

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