Love Thy Neighbors 

10 Ways to Make it Work

Remember when you were home blasting your stereo and Mom banged on the door for you to turn that racket down? In the world of off-campus housing, that lady across the street won't waste the energy to come up and bang on the door — she'll reach for her phone and call the cops. "We know they're going to have parties," says Cindi Gasparre, president of Harleston Village Neighborhood Association. "We know they're going to make noise. We are going to call the police and we're going to call livability court when it gets out on the street." And if you thought Mom's banging was a drag, you have yet to meet "The Man." Here are 10 Commandments for getting along with thy neighbors:

1. Thou Shalt Introduce Thyself. You don't want that first meeting with the neighbor to be over a forgotten pile of dog crap in their front yard. Introduce yourself as soon as you can. It means they'll come to you with their problems, but better you than your landlord or the cops. And it's good in case the neighbors are too loud for your taste, too.

2. Thou Shalt Park Between Two Lines. Blocking a driveway or parking in someone else's spot doesn't mean doom the first time, but expect it to come back up later as further evidence that you're a screw-up. Be sure to know the neighbors who tow. And, again, if they know you, they may be more apt to come to you before calling authorities.

3. Thou Shalt Notify Neighbors of Parties. Ready to celebrate that day that ends in Y? Surprisingly, your neighbors likely won't have the same affinity for the holiday. They probably have to work the next day or just value the silence that 3 a.m. tends to bring. The best bet is to check in with neighbors ahead of time to see if they have particular concerns (parking, music, etc.).

4. Or Thou Shalt Party Somewhere Else. Though they'll have to watch you stumbling back to your house, neighbors will hardly make a peep if you plan your party somewhere else. If unavoidable, plan an early party at the house, then move to areas where your revelry will be valued (bars, late-night diners, and, um ... well, bars).

5. Thou Shalt Not Fight Outside. Whether you're fighting over Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks or that stranger sleeping in your bed, you don't want to have these fights on the front lawn. Sure, your neighbors love melodrama, but that's what cable is for.

6. Thou Shalt Not Litter. Neighbors don't want your crap, both figurative and literal, on their lawn. But they don't want to see it in your yard either. Again, it's not a deal breaker, but trash can come back to haunt you in a real fight.

7. Know Thy College-Aged Neighbors. This can do nothing but help. There's strength in numbers and it's always good to have someone else in your corner.

8. Thou Shalt Play the Music of the Night During the Day. Who doesn't like Modest Mouse blaring at 3:30 in the morning? Everybody but you. So, take the opportunity that a lax daytime schedule gives you to turn it up. But, even then, close those windows.

9. Thou Shalt Befriend a Cop. You know what makes the ordeal with police officers better? When you know them. Everybody looks like a trouble-maker after a few beers with the accompaniment of loud music and 30 friends, so it'd be best if the cops already knew you from a different setting.

10. Thou Shalt Grow Up. Mom and Dad may be signing the rent check (and turning your old digs into a guest room), but that doesn't mean that you're without responsibility. Your parents may have said they love you, but that was before they lost the security deposit.

Hoping to further the dialogue between neighbors, the College of Charleston will host a neighborhood forum at 7 p.m. Sept. 12 at Physicians Auditorium.


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