"Operation Red Cup" may sound like the most epic house party of all time, but it is in fact quite the opposite — a full-scale effort by the city of Providence to crack down on the raucous behavior of Providence College, Johnson and Wales University and Rhode Island College students carousing off campus in the Elmhurst neighborhood, northwest of downtown.
Town-gown relations have been tense in the neighborhood for years, said Ward 5 Councilman Michael Solomon, a proponent of the crackdown. But in the last several months, students' drunken revelry has "really gotten out of hand," he said.
"I think what's happened is that the word's gotten out that it's a party district," he said.
The parties have been getting rowdier because they have been "drawing people from outside the area," Solomon said. In fact, police have "spotted a few high school students" partying in the neighborhood.
"There's never been a unified effort" to clean up the neighborhood, Solomon said. But this most recent effort brings together city government, law enforcement, the students' schools and landlords.
"I think when everybody gets together it's going to be easy to tackle the problem," Solomon said.
Solomon said he believes the effort has already started to send a message. He said 70 arrests have been made in just three weeks.
The councilman has proposed a city ordinance that would fine landlords — anywhere from $250 to $1,000 dollars — who do not evict tenants after three noise complaints in a single year.
Providence Police have also begun reporting the identities of misbehaving students to their respective colleges. "Hopefully their parents are going to know," Solomon said.
PPD did not return multiple requests for comment.