By Cristina Bishai
On a bright Saturday morning earlier this month, a small band of seniors, UC Santa Cruz Student Health and Outreach Program (SHOP) coordinators, community members, and campus police knocked on the doors of select homes in Santa Cruz to deliver a somewhat odd message-"Just Say Gnome: Party Small." According to SHOP, gnomes do not throw "loud and unruly gatherings.""I think it’s pretty apparent that relations between the university and the city are not anywhere near where we would like them to be," said Megan Decer, a UCSC senior intern with the Good Neighbor Initiative. Decer, who participated in the "Knock and Talk" event, distributed brochures with detailed instructions on how to best to host social gatherings, as well as various methods on how to react if a party gets out of control.The brochure included an outline of the updated city party ordinance and a warning to students off-campus."The Santa Cruz Police Department has formed partnership agreements with UCSC Police, so off-campus party violations usually have on-campus consequences," according to the brochures.A uniformed campus police officer joined Decer’s group on the "Knock and Talk" to inform students about the party ordinance, which was passed June 2005. In prior years, violators would be fined $35 if they received two warnings for "loud and unruly gathering" within a 12-hour period. With the amended ordinance, individual homes are limited to one warning within 12 months. If they receive another noise complaint, fines will be issued: $250 for the first violation, $500 for the second, and $1000 for the third-including a misdemeanor charge. On top of the fines, violators will also be responsible to pay for the officer’s time. "I think it’s important for students to [become acquainted] with officers outside of a situation where they are being documented," intern Nico Archer said. "The police that day were not there to check out things, their goal was to say that they are involved."Regardless of their intentions, UCSC third-year Joseph Adams called the Saturday wake-up call "sketchy." "I think it was an aggressive scare tactic," Adams said. "A bunch of people coming to my door, and a cop watching from a distance."The campaign is monitored by a new campus coalition called the Campus Community United to Reduce Binging [CURB]. This task force was created last October, and is designed to develop campaigns to combat binge drinking while supporting the updated party ordinance.Jane Bogart, UCSC Student Health Outreach Coordinator, worked to publicize the recent campaign. "In 2002 all the UC’s became involved in a study called The Safer California School Study, and were randomized into controlled intervention groups," Bogart said. "The Gnome campaign came out of this study."A total of four households have been fined under the new ordinance. The amount of big parties in Santa Cruz is declining, according to the Santa Cruz Police Department."[College students] understand that this ordinance exists," said Zach Friend, Spokesman for the Santa Cruz Police Department. "Even though we haven’t issued that many tickets, at least neighbors are saying that in their neighborhood the number of large scale parties is reducing."With a total of 2,579 noise complaints received since the ordinance was passed, and few parties escalating beyond warnings, both UCSC and the city of Santa Cruz will continue to support the new ordinance, and the various campaigns designed to reduce unruly parties. "It’s really important that we realize that we’re not just a city on a hill," Decer said. "We encompass the rest of the Santa Cruz community."