For many Keene State College students, leases have been signed, security deposits have been paid and they are ready to get away from the “dorm life.” Although living off-campus can be exciting, many students don’t understand the rights, rules and responsibilities of doing so.
On Wednesday, March 30, Coordinator of Student and Community Relations Robin Picard held an off-campus orientation program for students living in single-family homes and apartments during the next school year.
Picard explained there are four purposes to the program:
Let students know they have resources and what those resources are….
Let them know their impact on the community and what that means and to have a little discussion around that.
Make sure they understand the Keene State College policies and the state laws that apply to them.
Clarify the tenant and landlord relationship and the rights and responsibilities on both the student tenant and the landlord.
A popular topic of conversation among students is that this session is mandatory. Picard said, “I would love it if we didn’t have to make it a requirement, and I hate having a mandatory fee.” Picard continued, “After the pumpkin riots in 2014, there was a city-wide meeting and they formed a city and college commission. One of the things it [the city and college commission] said is that they wanted to see an off-campus orientation to try and alleviate some of the issues that they felt not only in the pumpkin riots, but in increasing noise ordinances and large gatherings.”
KSC Sophomore and Biology Major Russel Kramer said he learned a lot about the obligations a landlord has to follow with their tenants.
“Obviously there’s maintenance, but I didn’t know they have to give you 24 hours and certain things like that, as well as courtesies. [I also learned] how you’re still accountable for your actions off campus as if you were on campus, so don’t make any enemies,” Kramer said.
KSC Sophomore and Management Major Kristen Reid thought it was helpful to know the college is there for students and available to talk, even though they may be off-campus. She said the session should definitely be mandatory, but maybe presented earlier in the year. “A lot of people signed leases way earlier. I feel like if I knew this before I signed a lease, I might have been more careful,” Reid said.
Picard explained she wants to hear student ideas related to being quieter in the streets when leaving the bars or visiting a party. She said students might have better ideas in regard to breaking that cycle.
“I think students are well-intentioned….I think everybody for the most part are good people, and unfortunately what happens is once alcohol enters, everything changes. Is there a way that you can drink and do it responsibly and not be urinating on your neighbor’s lawn? I know people say this is part of the college experience, but I think our students are worth more than that and I would love to know the answer how to remedy it,” Picard said.
In a follow-up interview with Picard, she said public urination is a common issue permanent Keene residents encounter from college students, as well as a common issue documented in police reports.
The session contained information regarding landlord rights and responsibilities, code enforcement, student conduct, police involvement and more.
According to Picard, a lot of students aren’t as focused on living off-campus as they should be. She said she has to hope that students will remember the information presented at the session, or begin to start thinking about it over the summer. At some point, she said she hopes to create an app so students can quickly refer to the information, and said maybe this will initiate some behavior changes.
Jessica Ricard can be contacted at email@example.com