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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Noise complaints call for action


College students blamed for disturbances in the North End

Jenn Orr
Gianna Carchia

Journal Staff

It’s Friday night in the North End, and somewhere amidst this charming landscape of brick buildings, a party is getting busted. In clown car fashion, people shuffle out of a tiny apartment one by one, spilling into the streets and scattering. There has been yet another loud party complaint in the neighborhood, and the noise can only mean one thing:

Students are off to their usual shenanigans – partying, disturbing the peace, being disrespectful. At least that’s the word around town, and somebody has to take the blame.

In a recent post on, Matt Conti recapped a recent November meeting of the North End Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) Public Safety Committee meeting, which reported that Boston Police received 46 calls in the prior 30 days regarding loud parties and disruptive activities. Police, Conti said, attributed the majority of the noise to college students.

Noise complaints are not uncommon among the college community. In the last year, several Beacon Hill landlords banded together and decided to stop renting to students. This caused an influx of apartment-seeking undergrads and a migration to the next nearest neighborhood – the North End.

In an effort to combat the many disturbances, Boston City Councilors Mike Ross and Sal LaMattina have created the Problem Property Task Force (PPTF). Composed of the councilors and other community representatives, the group meets once a month to deal with disorderly conduct issues.

“We’ve been working with the universities, the police, and the representatives’ office; we need to stay on top of this before it gets out of hand,” said LaMattina. “Young people want to party, we’re asking them to be responsible to their neighbors. We’re encouraging people to call 911 so we can keep track of where these problems are.”

Conti’s article reported that Councilors Ross and LaMattina are currently working on policies regarding special lease terms for off-campus college students. There is a possible “three strikes and you’re out” rule under consideration, but it remains unclear if the goal is to alter behavior or drive students out of the North End.

“I’m hoping that landlords will stop renting to students and colleges will start building more dormitories,” conceded LaMattina.

He said he did not have anything against students. “But if they’re not going to behave in neighborhoods in apartments, then they shouldn’t be allowed to live there.”

When asked by the Journal which policy guidelines are currently in development, LaMattina dismissed the question and commented instead on the student impact on the rising costs of rent. And although the PPTF meets once per month to put together all data from phone calls and complaints to find which properties are frequently reported, he could not pinpoint the addresses of these problematic buildings – something that has become common knowledge among neighborhood residents.

In one incident, police broke up an Oct. 30 party at 94 Prince St. with more than 100 college-aged students, citing the host with disturbing the peace and keeping a disorderly house. LaMattina was questioned about the difference between current loud party policies included in leases (keeping a disorderly house) and ones he and Ross are developing:

“I don’t know if there’s a difference, just the ability for the police to cite them and give them a fine. I think both of them work together, but I don’t know.”

Stephen Passacantilli, president of the NEWNC and member of the PPTF, said that on several occasions the PPTF directly contacted PF North End Realty – the company that rents out several of the buildings in question. Repeated noise complaints have been associated with the same addresses, including 28 Fleet St., 214 Hanover St., and 224 Hanover St., Passacantilli confirmed. Some residents refer to these addresses as extra Suffolk dorms.

“Nothing really came of it,” Passacantilli said. He also implied that the company does not really keep tabs on its tenants because of constant student rental turnovers.

Passacantilli addressed the problem as relatively new in the neighborhood and acknowledged that just as Beacon Hill dealt with a large student population, so too will the North End – but in a different way.

“I would blame the landlords more than I would blame the students,” he asserted. “It’s their building, it’s their responsibility, but to them it’s just about, ‘We get our rent, let’s leave it alone.’ [But] for every absentee landlord who doesn’t care, there’s four or five landlords who do the right thing.”

Passacantilli, who has been a lifelong North End resident, is familiar with neighborhood complaints. In his position as president, he deals with constant criticism ranging from trash to tourists. “So you can imagine that they’re going to complain about students.”

In a visitor-attracting neighborhood with a lively nightlife, keeping quiet is nearly impossible, and Passacantilli knows that. Unlike others addressing the issue, he is less eager to use students as scapegoats in dealing with all neighborhood disturbances.

“There’s going to be noise. We live in the North End. That’s the end of the story,” he said. “When people call in a noise complaint, it’s like, ‘I don’t know what to tell you. People are here. They love coming here.’”

Some residents have gone as far as moving out of the North End because of the increased population and subsequent noise. “I would say the last five to seven years that [the noise problem] has become increasingly worse,” said Keri Cassidy, North End resident and co-owner of Mercato del Mare on Salem Street.

Cassidy has lived in the North End for 17 years, and like many other long-time residents, she has witnessed a major neighborhood demographic shift in the form of young people. Her business partner, Liz Ventura, moved out of the neighborhood after 15 years of residency because of the noise that inevitably comes with a younger crowd rolling into town.

“You can’t just blame it all on the students,” Ventura said. “It’s just become an overwhelmingly young neighborhood and they like to party. It’s the 20-something professionals; it’s the 30-something professionals [too].”

So where do Suffolk students stand in all of this? Some believe the entire issue at hand is being highly embellished, such as sophomore and Fleet Street resident Erika Ciccariello, who claims that “the amount of complaints is being exaggerated. My roommates and I have had many parties but the cops have only been called once, barely ever causing a complaint.”

Other students say that although undergrads are hosting parties and should be held accountable for disruptive actions, there are multiple sources of noise in the neighborhood.

“There are bars in the North End too. We’re not the only ones making noise,” said Mike Gesualdi, Suffolk junior and Fleet Street resident. “Not every Suffolk student living in the North End is throwing a huge party. It’s unfair to punish everyone when it’s just a few people causing a problem.”

In the end, what it comes down to is reaching a compromise. “I like having students here,” Passacantilli concluded. “How do we protect the residents who live here, have families here, who want to stay here? How do we make it a livable neighborhood? It’s new to us, so this is gonna take some time, but I’m confident we’ll figure it out.”

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  • N

    North End ResidentAug 14, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Even though this comment is over a year late from the original posting of this article, I just thought I would note that although Yes – it’s annoying when college students throw parties and wake up neighbors, what about the feasts? I live on Hanover St by the waterfront laundry and for every thursday, friday, saturday, and SUNDAY night in august, i’m kept up until midnight from music blasting outside my window – and I mean blasting. There is no way one party is as loud as these feasts, and Sunday night is a work night also.

    These feasts are not suffolk college students, they are run by the original north end locals. Who apparently also like to have a good time sometimes and make some noise – I guess it’s ok when they do it though…

    • S

      Students ruined the N. EndFeb 11, 2012 at 5:35 pm

      Students have completely RUINED the North End. It’s not just the noise…although that in itself is ridiculous. They also puke and urinate on people’s doorsteps, and throw their trash in the street and in planters designed to make the area nicer. They have NO respect for anyone else, and feel completely entitled to behave as they do. I lived here 20+ years ago as a student, and I never had a party here, because I respected the long-time residents. They were kind, welcoming, and looked out for me when I walked home at night. Now it’s screaming, walking the streets with Solo cups full of booze, and being generally despicable. PLEASE stop renting to students. Let them live in dorms or in Allston/Brighton. I am so sick of their disrespect and general obnoxiousness. Thank God I don’t own property here.

  • R

    RUSeriousNov 23, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    @Dan; Careful you ignorant jerk. Comments like that can get you hurt. And nobody will care

  • D

    DanNov 22, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Are you sure the noise isn’t from the Italian guys yelling at each other from blocks away?

    You can hear Gino yelling to his paisans from Haymarket.

  • A

    Amy BNov 22, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    To respond to sophomore Erica’s statement that the “number of complaints are being exaggerated” – they aren’t. I think the number of complaints is actually lower than the number of times students are noisy because we are tired of complaining and never being listened to. It’s not the noise from bars and restaurants that are disturbing us – it’s the noise of loud, drunk teenagers screaming and yelling and the music they play that is the problem.

    I live at 28 Fleet street which has about 40 units and about 75% of them have Suffolk students living in them. My building is so loud that I have a hard time sleeping Wednesday through Saturday nights. I have called my building super and building management company but all they do is print notices asking all residents to be respectful which obvoiusly go igonred. They told me that I’m the “only one who complains about noise” – obviously I’m one of the only ones, the rest of the residents are students!!

    The issue is that because so many students live in my building, it’s hard for me to pinpoint where the party is. They are constantly traveling from apartment to apartment within the building and make tons of noise in the halls. (Screaming at the top of their lungs and running around like children – I can’t believe the behavior.) Because I can’t give a unit number for the party to the police, they rarely ever come even though I have called them 5-6 times since I’ve lived in the building. I have gone out into the hall and asked the drunk students to quiet down and all they do is laugh and continue to scream and call me “lame.” They have no regard for their neighbors.

    I’d also like to point out that my bedroom window faces on to the alley way where some of the students have a private entrance to their apartment. I have been woken up by girls screaming at their boyfriends, people throwing up and people urinating out there. During the summer when the students were partying on the roof (which they are supposedly denied access to), the kids would throw glass bottles off the roof and they would crash down in the alley way making a ton of noise. I could hear this even with my windows shut and my AC on.

    I’m 24 years old and have been out of college for only 3 years, but that doesn’t mean I want to be up til 3 am every night when I need to work early the next day. I had fun in college, trust me – but I lived in a dorm with other students from my college, not an apartment building with working professionals and elderly people. I want to move out of my apartment so badly but unfortunatley I am stuck in a lease until August 2011 and the management company won’t let me break it based on these complaints. I absolutely hate the buliding I live in and it’s sad that I spend half of my paycheck on my rent to live in these conditions. I feel trapped. I wish I was told by the mangement company when I moved in that the building was made up of mostly students – I never would have chose this apartment. I hope that someone actually LISTENS to my complaint and does something about it for once, because I have been complaining nicely now for 7 months and no one has done a thing.

  • L

    LongtimeNorthEnd ResidentNov 22, 2010 at 11:57 am

    The noise problem caused by students is very real ( they think all of Boston is an extension of a college campus and adult rules do not apply to them…an unfortunate belief that we all go through as a right of passage ) and the attitude displayed by some students needs to be adjusted. However, this year I have found that the Sufflok students who live on my street are far more respectful when they are asked (or yelled at) to quiet down or move their smoking to in front to their own building then the arrogant self important young professionals who are a year or three out of college. They make more noise and are often downright nasty as well as disrespectful when someone has the NERVE to tell them to be quiet. I actually blame it on the parents of these people who din’t believe in discipline, brought susie and johnny up to believe they are entitled to whatever they want and even rewarded obnoxious behavior. I would love to find out where these young professionals parents and grandparents live and then go stand in front of their homes in the middle of the night and scream and sing and pee in their doorways and show them an example of how their offspring behave.

    So Sufflok students, enjoy your college years but remember you live in a neighborhood that is primarily made up of families with small kids and working stiffs that have to get up and go to work in the morning and older people who just want a good night’s sleep. Respect that they have the right to the QUIET enjoyment of their homes after 11PM. (that’s the law) and just maybe you will not be judged as just a group of irresponsible, noisy kids that are not wanted in the neighborhood. If you can’t deal with that, then maybe you should consider commuting to school from Allston or Brighton

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Noise complaints call for action