Evanston alderman Monday decided to ask Northwestern University officials to help regulate off-campus drinking games after hearing mixed views from residents about a proposed beer pong ban.

Julie Johnson said investors have bought housing on her block and are “packing them full of students” who play drinking games in the yard.

“Neighbors have been sworn at” when they asked asked the students to quiet down, Johnson said. “We’ve talked to the landlords, who are dismissive and don’t want to be bothered.”

Johnson said she thought an ordinance banning such games when they’re visible from neighboring properties would be “a powerful deterrent.”

But Jeremy Vannatta opposed the idea of a ban. He said it likely would violate privacy rights regarding what people can do on their own property, and the city already has noise and open container ordinances that could be used to control abuses.

Besides, Vannatta said, the overwhelming sentiment in the community is to reduce the need for police to respond to such incidents. “911 doesn’t need to hear from neighbors tattling on other neighbors,” he added. “This is exactly the opposite of defunding police.”

Aldermen Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, and Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, urged that something be done to address the noise problems. They ended up asking staff to have representatives from the university appear at the Dec. 7 Human Services Committee meeting. They plan to press the school to take a more active role in enforcing alcohol restrictions in the student conduct code off campus.

Fiske, though, wasn’t optimistic about the impact of that session. “It’s great idea,” she said, “but don’t hold your breath.”

Related story

Alderman wants to ban beer pong outdoors (10/31/20)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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