19 October 1987
Daily Trojan (University of Southern California)
Loud music: an infringement of your rights
In the morning as I come to work, I pass Pardee Tower anywhere between 8 and 9:30 a.m. Often, even half a block away, I can hear amplified music coming from one (or more) of the windows.
It seems that this is an insensitive infringement of the rights of many people, not least the other residents in the Pardee/Marks complex. There is no difference between this behavior and that of the guy who walks down the beach with a so-called "boom box," changing the moods of a hundred people with a source of auditory stimulation that is impossible to ignore.
Maybe some like it, maybe some don't; but the fact is that his musical choices - or, to get back to this instance, those of the Pardee resident(s) - intrude on everyone's experience whether they like it or not.
Without some guidelines about this kind of self-expression, we implicitly may be teaching students one or both of the following: 1) that behavior is acceptable until it's challenged; 2) that everyone's musical (or other) tastes are so uniform that one can assume their choices will be enjoyed by all who can't fail to hear them.
Even worse, those who involuntarily come in contact with the music and don't complain may be teaching themselves that their right to quiet contemplation is less valid than the right of the "intruder" to fill up the morning air with what he or she feels comfortable with.
It is a paradox that the less we intrude on the lives of others, the more we communicate. That's because intrusion forestalls choice, and interaction without choice is not communication.
Before I get off into the parallels of this situation with the larger society, let me just make a suggestion: that Student Affairs formulate guidelines that encourage each student at USC to limit her or his self-expression to her or his own "space," and let others enter and let others participate if they choose to.