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This Town is Big Enough for the Both of Us

**DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**

 
Steve is a senior at a private university in California. He’s involved with Greek life off-campus and lives in his fraternity’s house. The fraternity just moved to a larger house, next door to a middle-aged woman and her two young children. There are 13 total fraternity brothers living in Steve’s house, and as a result, it tends to get loud even when only the residents are hanging out on the front lawn or in the backyard.
 
The fraternity has thrown several small events at the new house that have bothered their neighbor. They usually just involve the housemates and a few friends playing drinking games and listening to music in the backyard. Their neighbor has called in noise complaints to the local police department on several of these occasions, sometimes leading to a warning and other times leading to escalating fines.
 
A few weeks after their last fine, Steve’s fraternity plans and executes a weeklong philanthropy event at their house. They donate all proceeds to several different charities, from cancer research to food banks. One of the week’s events involves teams bringing as much canned food as possible and constructing a creative sculpture out of these cans. The most creative can sculpture wins. Around 200 students show up to the event, which is held in the backyard. No drinking is taking place at the event, but there is music playing and the students are loud while communicating sculpture plans. The cops show up at the event at 7pm and shut it down. They also fine the house $300 for a noise complaint violation. It seems that their neighbor has called in again. 
 
Was it reasonable for Steve’s neighbor to call in a noise complaint for the event? Do Steve and his housemates need to accommodate their neighbor more, or does their neighbor need to be more accommodating? How can Steve and his house work with their neighbor so they can coexist more peacefully?

Resources

A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making
 
Encouraging Students to be Good Neighbors 
 
 
Photo by marsmet553available under a Creative Commons license.

 

Ethics
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