The City of Keene and Keene State College have joined together to help construct the Social Host Ordinance (SHO) for the Keene community.
This SHO is intended to help keep Keene neighborhoods looking decent, and hold landlords and students responsible for maintaining their properties. Robin Picard, Coordinator of Student and Community Relations, shared that “this is not just targeting students [because] it is community-wide.”
Timothy Zinn, a Keene resident, has supported the SHO for a few years now. He has lived in Keene for about 30 years and has personal experience dealing with problems of off-campus partying. The East Side Neighborhood Association that Zinn and other Keene residences are part of has done research through other college towns that have implemented such an ordinance and it has been proven to be very effective.
“As long as people are having respectful gatherings, there is no reason to fear this tool,” stated Zinn.
Another Keene resident, Sarah Franklin, voiced concerns of dangerous behaviors at large Keene State parties, especially during a pandemic. She and the rest of her committee of neighbors have worked for over three years to get the school to sign for this ordinance. Franklin said that she thinks “off-campus housing should be less about parties and more about being neighborly.”
The East Side Neighborhood Association and Keene State College do not want to take away students’ fun, but they are concerned about the safety of students and Keene residents. Zinn said he knows that this will be a “process of communication [between students, the school, landlords and the town] and culture change.” This will narrow the focus on the students that are continuously failing to show respect to the community and help to give Keene State a better reputation than a “party school.”
The East Side Neighborhood Association has met with Keene State College President Melinda Treadwell at town hall meetings and Treadwell has had conversations with students living in some residential areas in Keene. These conversations have included concerns with “party size and public indecency,” along with other things that may come from a hectic party.
President Treadwell has even talked to the College City Commission, who are “looking into ways to build a positive college-city relationship like how we can do barbeques and make the students feel like they are citizens of the City of Keene as well a part of these neighborhoods.” The SHO benefits the community as a whole and helps to control certain behaviors that are deemed unacceptable.
“Not in any way is the Social Host Ordinance related to COVID-19 [or] about commanding approach, but it is a tool to help reinforce behavior to make us all safer,” stated Treadwell.
As plans continue to be in development, President Treadwell shares that she will be going “door to door to let students know,” when the plan is in effect.
Denise Ronan can be contacted at