Don’t excuse balcony behavior

Larisa Manescu

Between the drunken whooping and hollering, wheels skidding and bottles smashing, West Campus sounds like a hybrid between a zoo and a crime scene on weekends and even some weekdays. Those of us who live here have adapted, considering the chaos a droning lullaby to which we fall asleep. Although witnessing such rowdy behavior is entertaining at times, some actions aren’t harmless and shouldn’t be excused as simply a part of the fun-loving party atmosphere of the neighborhood. Some of this behavior may be rooted as much in the neighborhood’s architecture as in the immaturity of its inhabitants.

Balconies make it easy for drunken groups of immature people to amuse themselves at others’ expense. Alcohol facilitates the behavior, but it is the distance from the targets on the ground that ultimately enables the action. Those on balconies are in a position that hides their identities. In my and others’ experience, the balconies that are most troublesome are those of 26 West and The Block on 25th, which overlook popular pedestrian streets and bus stops.

Triana Lopez, a communication studies senior, witnessed a particularly disturbing scene last spring near the Block at 25th.

“A girl across the street from me was walking under a bunch of balconies at the Block and all of the sudden she started yelling,” Lopez said. “A guy on one of the floors was peeing off the balcony and she happened to walk right into it.” Why was he urinating from the balcony? Because he could.

Just as inexcusable is the launching of beer bottles, frozen bags of spinach (this actually happened) or other hard objects that can cause serious injury.

It’s easy to condemn inappropriate balcony behavior but far more difficult to effectively combat it. As a result, residents of West Campus have become desensitized to the issue and dismiss it as one of the inescapable realities of living on streets saturated with student housing complexes, most of which include balconies.

Jordan Dempsey, who lives at the Centennial Apartments, summarizes the typical response: “I think action should be taken. I don’t really know what.” He vaguely offered the idea of creating a “whole movement” against it. The fact that there are so many perpetrators and that it is almost always impossible to correctly identify them makes an effective response highly unlikely.

On an individual basis, however, there are options. Baha Eren, who lives at Texan Shoal Creek, describes a recent incident in which his sister took the initiative to speak out and stop rowdy balcony behavior.

“She was on the balcony and people were cussing and yelling next door, throwing glass bottles down at people,” Eren said. “She told them to be quiet and fortunately they did.” Eren said that his sister had already warned the people once before and threatened to call the cops after her second warning, which is when “they started to be quiet.”

If you know someone who engages in such behavior, consider the burden yours to do something about it. Nobody wants to be a snitch and get his or her friend arrested, but being assertive can potentially save someone from a bottle to the head. If you see it happen and don’t interfere, you’re as complicit as the person who threw it.

While the balcony phenomenon is often written off as an inevitable consequence of booze, alcohol doesn’t justify the acts or excuse the perpetrators from punishment. Something needs to be done.

Anyone who has ever been a target of primitive, offensive or violent balcony behavior shouldn’t brush it aside or accept it as an inescapable reality. As a community, we need to strive to make West Campus a more respectful place to live.

Manescu is a journalism and international relations and global studies sophomore from Ploiesti, Romania.