With Keene State College opening up to welcome students back on campus for the fall semester comes the inevitability that students will want to meet up with friends at a gathering or even a potential party. However, Owls who are seeking out a wild party, even if they ignore the current COVID-19 pandemic, may find another obstacle in their path: the city’s Social Host Ordinance.
This new ordinance, which has not yet been approved, is designed to give the city new tools for breaking up out-of-control parties. The ordinance, which was submitted by Keene residents, calls for the city to take action against the hosts of rowdy parties that meet “two or more criteria from a list of offenses” which include “harassment, substance use, assault, destruction of property, noise disturbances, indecent exposure or conduct, littering and parking violations, among others, reported the Keene Sentinel.
The Equinox Staff believes it is inevitable that college students will want to party, and given that Keene is known as a “party town” local residents should expect college-life as a part of the town. However, The Equinox Staff also believes that students should maintain a level of respect for residents of Keene that live there year-round and not just nine months out of a year. It’s also important to note that the COVID-19 pandemic remains underway and according to Keene State’s Community Commitment Agreement (CCA), there should not be groups larger than 10 people, so by hosting an out-of-control party, one would not only be going against the social ordinance, but potentially the CCA as well. By engaging in rowdy house parties, this could result in the spread of COVID-19 which would potentially lead to students finishing their semester or possibly the school year remotely once again.
The Equinox staff believe this ordinance would be useful during the pandemic to stop parties that would result in the spread of the virus, however we are also concerned with how the city plans to carry out the ordinance. We think that if the ordinance is passed, the city needs to be clear with the guidelines and careful with how they realize this ordinance. One of the offences listed is “noise disturbances” which although may refer to shouting or loud music, it may also refer to simple talking outside while walking late at night. Before this ordinance is passed, the policies and implications therein should be made clear. The ordinance should be clear enough so that students who are not intentionally trying to be loud are protected. At the same time, the students who are being rowdy and noisy on purpose should have to face consequences.
It is inevitable that college students will want to party but it is also important that students remain responsible and respectful especially during a global pandemic. We believe the social host ordinance has the potential to be a step in the right direction, but before it is realized its policies and the execution of those policies should be made more clear.