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Published: Saturday, 9/25/2004

Not very neighborly

IT'S becoming an annual tradition that more homeowners anticipate, but dislike with a vengeance. In late summer, college students move into rental housing or buy homes near their campus. Then in the spring they move out, leaving behind residents grateful for a summer of peace and quiet - until it all starts over again.

This is old news for homeowners in some neighborhoods around the University of Toledo. For years, residents in Bancroft Hills, Secor Gardens, and Byrne Hill Estates have complained to UT about the unruly behavior of students who rent in their neighborhoods.

Now add to the list Old Orchard, where more than two dozen homes are occupied by someone other than the primary owners, including students whose parents bought homes for them.

Permanent residents are worried. It's only September, and already one nasty party in Old Orchard led to the arrest of one student and the hospitalization of another. In addition, residents around UT registered 103 police complaints about students' conduct in August alone.

It's easy to write the problems off to the generation gap. We were all young once, and college kids can get a little crazy. But the explosion of binge drinking on and near America's college campuses seems measurably worse, and often more violent, than most of today's parents and grandparents recall of their own youth.

Today's weekend beer blasts often include ear-splitting music, cars parked on nearby lawns, empty beer cans strewn for half a block, and party-goers relieving themselves in public.

At least UT officials seem to be listening. Homeowners let off steam at a UT-sponsored neighborhood relations meeting recently. Plus, the university has a hotline for residents and officials periodically meet with them to address concerns.

Nobody expects UT authorities to baby-sit. But based on the number of complaints about students just in August, maybe UT needs to do more. Old Orchard and the university have been good neighbors for many years. It would be a shame to see that relationship compromised.

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