Life between the frat houses
    Photo by Aine Dougherty / North by Northwestern

    The weather has finally started to clear up, and darty season is in its peak. A woman sits in her backyard in a chair, trying to enjoy the day, when a crowd of college partiers envelop the backyards on either side of her. You’d think that she'd yell at the students or call the cops, but she would rather sit back, enjoy the day and mind her own business, which is a real rarity for an Evanston resident.

    Joann Minear, 69, has lived on Foster Street for 12 years. Other homeowners have moved in and out, but Minear has remained. She lives in a quaint, modest home, located between two houses that are consistently rented out by off-campus fraternities, including Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity and Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. As a retired secretary for the City of Evanston, Minear lives a relatively quiet life, but the property surrounding her house provides her with enough excitement for two lifetimes.

    "Hey, I was young once too, and they're pretty much respectable."

    - Joann Minear

    Although Minear lives between these two houses, she respects the fraternities’ choice to have darties.

    “For the most part, the [partygoers] have a good time and it gets a little loud,” Minear said, “but hey, I was young once too and they’re pretty much respectable.”

    Minear believes that respecting her college-student neighbors is the key to getting respect in return. Minear has built relationships with tenants in both houses in order to gain trust and friendship from the students.

    “I get to know them because I figure if you know your neighbors and are nice with them, then they’ll have more respect for you too,” she said. “It’s fun to watch the kids.”

    Minear has not had many problems with students in recent years, but she has had some instances in the past where students had shown her disrespect. About six years ago, Minear was sitting in her backyard with her friend enjoying the day when she heard a gunshot go off. She looked over and saw a student, who was living in the house at the time, holding a shotgun. She recalls that the student stared at her and went back inside. After this incident, Minear felt unsafe, but she felt as if she marked her territory since then.

    Another incident when Minear had to threaten students was on Dillo Day a few years ago. Minear was sitting on her porch when she saw a male student peeing in the gangway between the houses and onto her property. She threatened the student and tried to get him to leave the property.

    “I yelled, ‘Excuse me, hello, this is my property’ and the guy was so drunk that he didn’t know… he just looked at me like, ‘Ok whatever,’ but that’s really the only time we had a problem,” she said.

    Besides those incidents, Minear has found little problems with her neighbors; however, Minear does have to prepare for the chaos that occurs right when the sun comes up.

    Minear takes some great lengths to prepare for darties, especially for Dillo Day. Since Northwestern students start drinking and partying at 7 a.m., Minear and her neighbors bring in their garbage cans so that students do not fill them up with beer. Additionally, she contacts the landlords at both houses to make sure that the tenants know to keep the music down after 11 p.m., her bedtime. Lastly, she scolds the college students if they use foul language, especially around her young grandson, Lincoln.

    Photo by Aine Dougherty / North by Northwestern

    Living between the fraternity houses has sometimes been a positive experience for Minear. A few weeks ago, Minear was sitting in her backyard with her grandson when two girls came up to her and offered her and her grandson two hot dogs. They gladly took the hot dogs and sat outside experiencing the good vibes from the parties raging on both sides.

    Minear enjoys her current living situation and views the arrangement in a positive light.

    “It’s always fun to see them out there, you know?” Minear said. “When they start barbecuing and stuff, I know it’s a sign of springtime and summer. I try to get along with them.”


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