West Campus: No Right to Party?

Outcry over plan to restrict events leads to Council action

West Campus: No Right to Party?
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Beginning this week (Wednesday, Oct. 1), UT-Austin's West Campus streets were expected to get a lot quieter – uncharacteristically so. Responding to reported neighborhood complaints, Austin officials had announced a plan to limit West Campus events – by enforcing existing regulations covering "special events." But after an outcry from students, City Council Members Chris Riley and Kathie Tovo – both running for re-election in the new District 9, which includes West Campus – have said they are reviewing the new situation and looking for ways to mediate it. On today's Council agenda, Oct. 2, Riley has sponsored a resolution (co-sponsored by Mayor Lee Leffingwell) to develop an ordinance governing "private parties" – not currently defined in city code – and in the meantime to "allow some flexibility" in current permit regs to enable planned West Campus events to proceed.

Should the city's current special event regulations be fully enforced, event registration would require submitting a permit application at least 21 days in advance, rather than the previously required seven days, and the application would include a site plan describing the property and all the party structures. It would also mean increased enforcement and less leniency on violations – citations could mean bans on additional events for six months or more.

According to the Odyssey's Nicole Bueno, who broke the story, Austin Police Department Officer Ray Lopez made it clear that under strictly enforced regulations, most events simply wouldn't happen: "What's been allowed previously is going to come to an end. Ninety-nine percent of you will not be able to get the permit you need."

Many West Campus residents – including plenty of college students, especially fraternity members – reacted strongly against the pending enforcement, specifically of the regulations limiting the use of outdoor music; though city officials have said they would just be enforcing long-existing rules. According to an online petition, "Keep Live Music in West Campus," which had more than 2,800 signatures earlier this week, "Students were fine with many of the new rules and compliant with the official's new plans. That is, until one Austin Police Department officer [Lopez] informed students that outdoor music would no longer be allowed without a proper permit."

If Riley's resolution is successful, the city would create a dialogue of "stakeholders" – neighbors, fraternities, city commissioners, and city staff – and meanwhile, the draft resolution states, "staff may work with students to allow some flexibility in the permit requirements while ensuring safety and quality of life are maintained."

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More University of Texas
Quote of the Week
Quote of the Week

Nov. 30, 2018

Why Aren’t UT Students Getting Rape Kits?
Why Aren’t UT Students Getting Rape Kits?
The numbers don’t add up

Sarah Marloff, March 30, 2018

More fraternities
UT, OU Take Different Approaches to Racist Speech
UT, OU Take Different Approaches to Racist Speech
Oklahoma expels two, while Texas cites freedom of speech

Mac McCann, March 20, 2015

Frat Party Fallout
Frat Party Fallout
UT tries to address allegations of racism

Mac McCann, Feb. 20, 2015

More by Mac McCann
C'mon Take a Slow Ride
C'mon Take a Slow Ride
Chaos still reigns in Uber and Lyft's wake

May 20, 2016

Our City, Our Headache
Our City, Our Headache
Uber and Lyft's temper tantrum leaves Austin to clean up the mess

May 13, 2016

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

University of Texas, fraternities, Austin Police Department, City Council, Chris Riley, Kathie Tovo, Lee Leffingwell, West Campus, special events

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle