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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Red tags: The afterlife of the party

    Hailey Eisenbach

    A red tag issued on Aug. 25, 2012, hangs at The District, a student housing high-rise. These citations are given out when a place receives noise complaints, or is determined to be an “unruly gathering.”

    In the popular neighborhoods near campus, a party can be found almost every weekend. But when the party’s volume grows out of hand, it often results in a red tag, a small citation that must be displayed prominently in the window. Within the past year, there were over 190 red tag citations highly concentrated around the University of Arizona campus.

    The majority of those red tags from 2017 to now occurred in the shortest month. February saw a total of 32 of these citations, which have become synonymous with partying. 

    The citations are given to residents for “unruly gatherings,” defined as “a gathering of five or more persons on any private property … in a manner which causes a disturbance of the quiet enjoyment of private or public property by any person or persons,” by the Tucson Police Department’s website. 

    They can be seen as warnings. However, after multiple offenses or serious violations of the student code of conduct, they can turn into fees and serious repercussions for UA students. 

    A psychology and Spanish student *name has been removed* said the Theta Chi fraternity received a red tag last October for a noise complaint. The citation happened when about five friends were listening to music outside the house. Because the students wanted to contest the citation, the fraternity had to contract a lawyer to help fight the case in court. Although they won the case, the student said the effect was negative. 

    “It was a lot of time and money invested in fighting the red tag,” he said. 

    Red tags are handled by TPD, as well as the UA Dean of Students Office. Disturbances that can lead to a red tag citation include “excessive noise or traffic, obstruction of public streets by crowds or vehicles, drinking in public, the service of alcohol to minors or consumption of alcohol by minors, fighting, disturbing the peace and littering,” according to TPD’s guidelines. 

              RELATED: Petition seeks clarification on red tag rules

    Red tags can bring hefty fines along with them. If someone is determined to be responsible for the “unruly gathering” they are fined $100. When it comes to subsequent offenses, the first costs $500, a second offense carries a $750 fine, a third costs $1,000 and the fourth warrants $1,500.

    Although red tag citations may appear to be relatively simple, there is a lot of confusion about what they are, how they are handled and why they are given out. 

    Some concerned UA students are worried about the lack of clarity on exactly what constitutes as “unruly” to the TPD. 

    Last February, Clark Knobel, a student at the UA, created a petition which argued that red tag citations needed more clarity and that the law “targets college students and is unfairly enforced.” The petition proposed that the city makes revenue off charging college students fines for partying. While the petition managed to get 936 signatures urging the city council to rewrite the red tag laws, nothing has come of it. 

    Some Tucson residents do think their red tag citation was fair. On Oct. 28, 2017, the Saturday before Halloween and the weekend with the highest count of red tags for the year, Jennifer Neyoy received a red tag for a Halloween party that got out of hand. 

    “It was really stressful because I got called at 1 a.m.,” she said. “Somebody was shot right here [in front of the driveway] and died.” 

    The altercation took place when several uninvited men showed up to the party and fired at two party guests when they were asked to leave. 

    There were over 200 people at the party, according to the police report that her and her roommate received. The death was off the property so all they received was a red tag and a warning. Neither of them were determined responsible and didn’t have to pay any money, as long as they kept the red tag citation in visible sight. 

    She said the warning her and her roommate received felt just, because it was their first party and it served as a wake-up call.

    The Dean of Students Red Tag Program, an alliance with the TPD, was created to educate students on responsible behavior in the community and establish repercussions for when students act inappropriately. 

              RELATED: Where’s the party at? Just follow the red tags

    When a student receives a red tag, the Dean of Students is notified by the police. Per the UA’s Student Code of Conduct, “students are to be held accountable for off-campus behavior.”

    The office will look at each student case to determine if punishments ranging from warnings to expulsion are warranted for the individual.

    Chrissy Lieberman, associate dean of students, said when students receive sanctions it’s based on the number of violations present, their severity and a student’s history of conduct. 

    “This is not a one-size-fits-all situation,” she said. “Anytime a student is found responsible for a code violation, the sanctions can range from a warning, through educational and monetary sanctions, through suspension or expulsion.”

    Lieberman said the Dean of Students office is most concerned about the presence of weapons, underage drinking and sexual assault at parties. 

    “Our biggest concern will always be about health and safety,” she said. “Ultimately, the red tags serve two purposes, where one of them is to serve an educational opportunity, providing assistance and guidance to a student whose party got out of control, and the second part is to recognize that we are part of the UA community and we have to be cognizant of our neighbors.”

    Ward 6 Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik said the red tag policy goes beyond just a loud house party. 

    “Yes, it’s about being a good neighbor and not having a huge, loud party and to respect neighbors, but it’s also about more than that,” he said. “It’s about the shooting and vandalism and sexual assault and all the other things that happen when people get loaded and lose control.”

    Kozachik said “texting parties,” initially small parties that grow out of control once mass texting alerts large numbers of students to them, is a common reason a citation is given. 

    “Watch out how social media can affect the small party that you are having,” he said.

    Red tags around the UA are likely to remain a common occurrence. Since The Daily Wildcat last investigated the number of red tags, the number has increased by about 20. While partying is a part of the college experience, it only takes a complaint and an “unruly gathering” of five people to possibly earn fines, sanctions and a red sign in the window. 

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