APD reports 450 party violations, daily noise complaints in West Campus ZIP code since classes began


Photo Credit: Megan Fletcher | Daily Texan Staff

Nonemergency party reports made on student residences off campus have continued throughout the semester, and UT and housing management say they have little jurisdiction to enforce consequences. 

Since the beginning of classes on Aug. 26 to Nov. 11, 450 reports about parties violating Austin’s COVID-19 policies in West Campus and the surrounding areas in ZIP code 78705 have been filed to the Austin Police Department’s nonemergency services, according to data obtained by The Daily Texan through an open records request. Complaints of loud noises and mass gatherings without social distancing occurred almost every day from Aug. 26 to Nov. 11, according to the reports. 
With 39 complaints, the most reported property was the Quarters Montgomery House, whose management did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Regents West, whose two properties had 21 total complaints, said they were not aware of such incidents.
“We do not have any comment on this as we are unaware of parties going on at Regents West,” community director Maggie Gorton said in an email. “I will have to get with APD as these events are not happening in our common areas. If they are happening in individual apartments, we are not being made aware.”

According to the data, 22 gatherings were reported at San Gabriel Square Apartments. Property manager Harrell Brown said he was not aware of any parties. Brown said while there are social distancing guidelines at San Gabriel Square, there are no legal repercussions if parties are reported to management.
Sara Kennedy, director of strategic and executive communications for the Office of the Dean of Students, said in an email that UT expects all students to follow COVID-19 guidelines on and off campus.

“UT relies on the city of Austin and other authorities to enforce their rules off campus,” Kennedy said. “We remind all community members they can call the city through 311 if concerned the rules are not being followed.” 

While APD issues citations and fines for violations of COVID-19 policies, APD cannot act on a report once an offending event is over, said Bryce Bencivengo, communications manager for the city of Austin Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

“There’s no amount of police officers, code inspectors, fire marshals that we could ever send out to be at every restaurant, every neighborhood, at every operating venue,” Bencivengo said. “It’s just not possible. So we are reliant on the public to follow the guidelines that we set out.”
Marc Martinez, a radio-television-film sophomore, said he has reported a property near his residence, the Texas Rho fraternity house, a few times this semester. The Texas Rho house, which had a total of 17 reports according to the data, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 
Martinez said he is concerned about the consequences of students partying in West Campus and their impacts on others, especially since his reports didn’t have any effect on the frequency of these parties.
“I’ve always felt that they’ve been irresponsible and ignorant, and (they’re) just not having any empathy toward those who are at risk,” Martinez said. “I’m also a bit disappointed because students (who are) at this campus and are willing to put this community in danger makes me question: Who are the students at UT and what do they stand for?”

Editor’s note: The title of the infographic has been updated to better reflect the information in the graphic.