How to Be a Good Neighbor
The on-going relationship between the town and University is an interdependency which enriches the lives of all members of our Lehigh community. Off-campus students play an important role in the development of a positive relationship between the University and the community.
Off-campus students need to observe ordinances with a general consideration for their neighbors. Introduce yourself; let neighbors have your phone number so they can contact you if they have a concern. Appreciate and respect that community residents have different lifestyles than college students. You will find that your neighbors have diverse backgrounds, careers and experiences. It will be a great experience to get to know them.
Realize that a major source of irritation is noise. Be conscious of stereo volume, party noise and, in particular, street noise. Keep up the appearance of your home by placing trash in containers in the rear of the building. Upholstered furniture should not be on the porch. Windows should have curtains. Lawns, sidewalks, and streets should be maintained and cleaned. Obey local parking regulations and attend community meetings.
Your attitudes and actions are often received as a reflection on the University. Lehigh University supports your involvement in the university and community activities to strengthen the commitment of developing a cooperative and understanding relationship with the residents of the City of Bethlehem. It is also important that you are aware of the Lehigh University Student Code of Conduct and that any violation of the Code of Conduct both on and off campus will result in action being taken by the University Judicial System.
When you live off-campus it is important to remember that you are a Bethlehem resident and you must treat your neighbors with consideration. On an everyday basis, a good relationship is not difficult to maintain. However, giving occasional parties can sometimes cause problems with those otherwise friendly neighbors. A successful party in your home or apartment means that everyone enjoyed themselves and that you, your guests, and your neighbors were not inconvenienced by the event. In addition, it is important to remember that alcohol can only be possessed and consumed by those who are at least 21 years of age. Not providing alcohol to those under the legal drinking age is the responsibility of all members of the living unit. Individuals may be found liable if found in violation.
The following suggestions have been effective for students at Lehigh and other universities:
Before the Party
ˇ Invite a manageable number of guests. Know who you are inviting. Do not publicize the event.
ˇ Inform your immediate neighbors and encourage them to call if there is a problem. Be sure to leave your name and phone number. Tell them that you will be cleaning up the following day. If you are polite, honest, and straightforward, they will probably be more tolerant of your wishes.
During the Party
ˇ Know your guests. Feel free to turn people away that you do not know and who are intoxicated.
ˇ Do not collect money.
ˇ Provide non-alcoholic beverages and food for your guests.
ˇ Do not serve minors alcohol. You can be held responsible for any underage drinking that goes on in your home.
ˇ No one should leave the house with a cup, empty or full.
ˇ Be sure designated individuals remain sober the entire party to monitor for noise or other problems.
ˇ Keep windows closed; periodically walk around the outside of your house/apartment to check the noise level.
Be aware that Bethlehem has a noise ordinance and the police, as well as your neighbors, will expect you to keep music and noise at a reasonable level. Once the police receive a complaint and a violation is found, they will issue a citation with no warning.
ˇ Do not let anyone drive home intoxicated.
ˇ Do not have a lot of guests leave all at once. This creates noise and draws attention to your party.
ˇ If the police are called and should appear at your door, remember to be polite and cooperative.
After the Party
ˇ Contact neighbors and thank them for cooperating.
ˇ Clean up any associated trash the next day.
What draws the police to a party?
ˇ A complaint
ˇ Noise that can be heard on the street
ˇ Individuals carrying cups
ˇ Individuals leaving who are noisy, intoxicated, or urinating in public
ˇ Large numbers going in and out
ˇ Cash being exchanged for alcohol
is not “Just like a Parking Ticket”!
Being issued a citation means that you will also be referred to the Lehigh University judicial system. Additionally, the information on the citation is considered public information and will likely appear in local papers. Serving alcohol to minors results in an arrest and, if found guilty, carries a minimum fine of $1,000. The standard University penalty is suspension or expulsion.
Did You Know?
ˇ In Bethlehem, it is illegal to carry or possess any open vessel containing alcohol in a public place.
ˇ Individuals under the age of 21 have been cited for possession of alcohol because they were in a motor vehicle with alcohol, even if someone in the vehicle was 21 or older.
ˇ In Pennsylvania, the following underage drinking violations carry a MANDATORY SUSPENSION OF DRIVER'S LICENSE in addition to a fine:
○ Lying about your age to obtain alcohol
○ Purchasing, consuming, possessing, or transporting alcohol
○ Carrying a fake ID card
ˇ If you are an adult and convicted of knowingly selling or furnishing alcoholic beverages to a minor you face penalties of:
○ A minimum of $1,000 fine for a first offense
○ A $2,500 fine for a second offense
ˇ In Pennsylvania, the legal age for consumption, possession, and transportation of alcohol is 21.
Disorderly Conduct/Peace Disturbances and Noise
For off-campus students, it is important to remember that you are living in a neighborhood, and that certain standards prevail. In Bethlehem, a peace disturbance is defined by the following:
"A person is guilty of disorderly conduct if, with intent to cause inconvenience, annoyance or alarm...engages in fighting or threatening, or in tumultuous behavior, makes unreasonable noise, uses obscene language or makes an obscene gesture, creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by an act which serves no legitimate purpose..."
"Whoever willfully makes or causes...loud, boisterous, and unseemly noise or disturbance to the annoyance of the peaceable residents nearby..." commits disorderly conduct and a disorderly house is considered a "boisterous gathering."
The making of unnecessary noises like automobile horns, radios, amplifying systems, etc, is also considered a public nuisance. City police respond to citizen complaints about noise and other disturbances, usually with a warning first, and then with the issuance of citations if more complaints are made. In some neighborhoods where noise is a frequent problem, residents have become weary of personally requesting quiet and simply call the police as an initial response. Citations carry fines because they are issued upon the violation of a City ordinance. These fines can range up to $600.