- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 30, 2000

Residents of the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, D.C., felt a bit of deja vu last weekend as Catholic University students threw rowdy parties on Friday and Saturday nights, and a resident once again caught the whole thing on videotape.

Neighbors complained that students many who are underage were drinking in back yards and in the street, cursing and shouting late into the night and urinating in front yards.

"The noise just keeps people awake at all hours on the weekend," said Darcy Flynn, a federal lawyer and community activist who videotaped the parties because he said he feels neither the police nor university officials are doing all they can to stop them.

"The parties often don't get rolling until 11," said Mr. Flynn, who started videotaping the students last fall to show police and university officials what was really going on. The videotapes included one scene where rugby players paraded through the streets in their underwear as part of an initiation, The Washington Times reported in September.

On Friday night, one party took place at 1232 Newton Street, while the other two parties took place at 1212 and 1214 Michigan Avenue NE and 3814 12th Street NE on Saturday night.

Catholic University's president, the Very Rev. David O'Connell, was one of the first persons to report the students Saturday night. Overhearing students discuss the party at an orientation, he drove to the neighborhood and noticed the large group of students gathering on Michigan Avenue, said Victor Nakas, a university spokesman.

"He was concerned that these were freshmen or other underage students," Mr. Nakas said.

Metropolitan Police said the officers who responded to calls from residents claimed they did not find any illegal activity and asked students to take the party inside. Officers were not present when the party finally broke up, said Assistant Chief Bill McMannus.

Sabrina Sojourner, who lives next door to the party houses on Michigan Avenue, said the school needs to stress to students that they are members of the community, too.

For the first time, though, two students living next door to her came over and apologized the next day, she said.

"That's never happened before," Ms. Sojourner said.

Mary Baird-Currie, the advisory neighborhood commissioner for Brookland, lives in the 1200 block of Michigan Avenue and was home during the parties.

"There was so much traffic it was as if there was a stadium event letting out," Mrs. Baird-Currie said.

"I counted almost 400 students going up Michigan Avenue."

Mrs. Baird-Currie said the university has been cooperative in dealing with student behavior off-campus, but the Metropolitan Police Department has not been as vigilant in citing rowdy drinkers.

"I'm very upset by the way it was handled," she said.

"What's bothering me is that there were obvious legal infractions that occurred, and no citations or arrests were made," she said.

Assistant Chief McMannus said if officers did not cite students who were drinking this weekend, they would definitely be doing so in the future.

"We want to nip [the problems] in the bud and take enforcement action if we need to," he said.

Parties usually take place every weekend during the school year, with more students coming to parties at the beginning and end of the academic year, Mr. Flynn said.

Roughly 5 percent to 10 percent of the Brookland population is made up of college students, who live in the Victorian-style houses scattered around Monroe, Newton and Quincy streets.

The dean of students and vice president of student life both visited the houses where the parties took place and advised the students of the trouble they were in, Mr. Nakas said.

Catholic University will study the incidents and then make a decision next week on whether to pursue disciplinary action. Last year, four students were placed on disciplinary probation one step below suspension for their behavior at rowdy parties, he said.

"It is intolerable that some members of the CUA community are so insensitive as to disrupt the lives of Brookland residents and damage our otherwise good relations with our Brookland neighbors," the Rev. Robert M. Friday, the vice president for student life, wrote in an letter to the Catholic University undergraduates.

"Do not put your future here in jeopardy," he warned students.

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