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Urinetown

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Last Friday night, I hung out with a couple of UVM students at the corner of Main  and South Prospect Streets, to report this story on UVM's Have a Heart campaign to reduce late-night "walk-by noise." Here's how it works — student volunteers stand on street corners and intercept their fellow students walking toward house parties or bars downtown. The Have a Heart ambassadors hand out chocolate hearts and ask the other kids to "have a heart" and keep it down, out of respect for the families who live nearby.

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I really enjoyed talking with Erin Renz and Scott McCarty, pictured here approaching a group of late-night revelers. They were so dedicated and articulate and sincere. Way more so than I was when I was in college (for the record, 10 years ago, I would have been on the receiving end of this campaign).

I wanted to kudo Scott and Erin here because I think they and the other Have a Heart volunteers deserve a lot of credit, and I didn't get to say that in my story. I did, however, get to write about my encounters with some of the kids they were trying to shush.

There was one girl in particular who was wasted and totally clueless. She even interrupted Scott while he was talking with her to shout across the street to one of her friends. Later, after Scott and Eriin had called it a night, I saw the same girl on South Willard Street. I had gone down there to see if I could find some more Have a Heart people, but spotted this girl just as she ducked behind some trees to pee.

For years now, I've been hearing stories from Hill Section residents about how the college kids pee on their lawns. I've always been skeptical. I mean, who pees on somebody's lawn? So I couldn't believe it when I overheard this girl say she was going to go to the bathroom behind three trees five feet from the sidewalk. It was only a little after 11!

I told her it was illegal to pee there, and advised her to go find someplace else to go — I know, I know, I'm such a big buzzkill, but I couldn't help it. Maybe it was because I was sober, or because I'm a crusty old prude, whatever. It just bugged me. After she realized I was serious, she stumbled back to the sidewalk and walked off with her male companion, probably to find a less conspicuous hedgerow.

So I wanted to emphasize here that, although I concluded my story in the paper with this amusing little anecdote, I do recognize that not all UVM students (or college students, for that matter), are drunken loudmouths. Scott and Erin, thanks for spending your Friday night asking students to pipe down. I think people really do appreciate your efforts.

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