When College Students Live Next Door College students and families don't always make the best neighbors. Commentator Ed Cullen has an uneasy truce with some of the young people on his street.

When College Students Live Next Door

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Commentator Ed Cullen lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, not far from a university that boasts more than 30,000 students. Many are gone for the summer now, and that suits Cullen just fine.

ED CULLEN: I live near Louisiana State University, where students in recent years have moved into houses their parents bought for them in residential neighborhoods. There are subtle signs of the new demographic, like the word spray painted on a garage, where an elderly man once kept an elderly car. Free beer tomorrow, promised the crudely formed letters. I'm pretty sure that the old guy is parking his car somewhere else these days.

There always have been a house or two on our street where college students, usually grad students, lived. But these nights, my street rings with the noise of car door slamming at 2 a.m., the chirp, chirp of car alarms and a wait-for-it blam of front doors closing. Some of the parents who bought houses on my street for their children tell me to call or email if there were any problems. A search to the Internet tells me that this problem exists in other college towns.

On the mornings that garbage is picked up, the party house crew will be sleeping in. That explains the smelly garbage warehoused under the carport. Young people bright enough to get into college can learn when to put the garbage out and how to recycle. Some of my student neighbors think they are recycling, when they left free newspapers, beverage cans and plastic bottles mulched into Astroturf on unmowed lawns.

Some of us have been through the teen years and the college years with our own children. We see no reason to go through that again. We see no reason to go through that again. Why don't our hopes for the future take a few minutes to read the recycling instructions before attempting to recycle couches, kicked-in doors and shattered chip rock? Why doesn't it occur to tomorrow's leaders that 14 cars parked in front of a small house for a party that goes into the wee hours isn't the norm for a street like the one they grew up on?

Why don't they get it the first three times the police are called? One of my neighbors, who rear two children of his own went to the student house next door the other night to point out that it was 3 a.m., time of the oversized children yelling in the front yard to be put to bed.

I recall, wistfully, the previous owners of the party house - a young couple, whose infant daughter was taking her first steps, when the family moved to Houston. We were sorry to see them go, little knowing how sorry we were going to be when the new people moved in.

I have learned the negotiation for college students who weren't reared right. I don't bother talking to them at 3 a.m. I wait until they have been asleep for few hours. On my way to work, I knock on their door until a pair of bloodshot eyes appears to the door's one-inch opening.

Good morning, I say. Let's talk about that noise last night. There are other students on the street who conduct themselves the way they do when they're at their parents' other houses. We have a name for these people. We call them neighbors.

SIEGEL: Ed Cullen is a columnist at the Baton Rouge Sunday Advocate and author of "Letter in a Woodpile".

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