A beautiful neighborhood lined with nice houses portrays a seemingly relaxed residential area during the day. However, visit Blake Street around midnight on any weekend during the Keene State College academic year and you might come away with a different impression.
Popular music blaring, windows vibrating from the tremendous power of the bass while people are shouting, fights are erupting and people are destroying property: this insanity is a likely scene on the weekends at the off-campus housing. The college students’ freedom leads to sleepless nights and fear of vandalism for neighbors. This is a difficult reality and perhaps a misrepresentation of the typical KSC student in the surrounding neighborhoods.
A resident of Blake Street in Keene, N.H., who wished to remain anonymous described the nightlife paradox when she said, “Everyone says my house is so nice, but that is during the day.”
The scene depicted is one experienced by many people who are permanent residents of popular party streets like Blake. The same Blake Street resident described her initial feelings about off-campus parties, “My experience with people throwing and attending the parties is almost always negative. This is because they are after two o’clock, which makes them [college students] unapproachable.”
One encounter with the resident’s neighbors highlights the typical weekend, “There was a twenty-first birthday party. Their guests were blasting music, the bass was making it hard to sleep and I had finally had it!” the Blake Street homeowner said. When she went over to ask them to calm the party down the woman found the house in complete disarray, “There was an inch of beer on the ground!” she said.
The Blake Street resident said she was treated to very rude behavior when she made a request to turn down the music. “The language was intolerable!” The resident of Blake Street faces undeserved disrespect from young adults when she asks to be allowed to sleep, leading her to comment on the lack of respect displayed by many kids who attend parties near her home. “The kids don’t seem to realize, this is my neighborhood. They may graduate this year, but I stay here,” the Blake Street homeowner explained.
When asked if her property had ever been vandalized the Blake Street resident answered with a resounding “Yes. I had a beautiful statue of a goddess resting against a tree in my yard. My husband and I wrapped the base with reinforcement and looped it underground, but they [the vandals] just ripped her head of.” The Blake Street resident stated that she did not believe student would act this way if they were not intoxicated. “The students would not have done that if they had not been drinking.” Regarding the respect for their neighbors the Blake Street resident asked, “How can they show respect for elders when they are under the influence of alcohol? They can’t because their judgment is skewed.”
A second Keene homeowner, who wished to remain , reflected on the difficulty partying poses on her family. “Being a family wanting to live in a quieter neighborhood, partying makes things hard for a family with children.” The Pleasant Street resident has a 15-month-old baby, and talked about the trouble her daughter faced this past weekend, “There were some pretty crazy parties over this Pumpkin Fest weekend. It was hard for my daughter to sleep.”
In an attempt to appeal to students’ better judgment KSC’s Allison Riley, coordinator of the Office of Student and Community Relations, is developing a “Good Neighbor” poster campaign for use throughout the residence halls on campus, reminding students of the fines that could be given to students who venture off campus. If the students do not abide by their neighbors’ requests there are some penalties they should be worried about. Noise violators face three levels of fines. The first offense incurs a $155 fine, the second offense increases to $310 and the list tops off with the last offense of up to $1,000. Other potentially fined behaviors are holding a party that provides drugs and provides for underage drinking leaving the person responsible with fines up to $1,500 and a misdemeanor on one’s permanent record. There are also trash violations that may result in fines. The first offense is a $125 fine, second offense is a $250 fine and the last offense can go up to a $1,000 fine.
Riley encourages off-campus students to register their parties with KPD. This action provides them with a warning process; they are given a courtesy call if their parties become a disturbance to the neighbors, which provides them with an opportunity to calm the party down. This could help students escape a noise summons from Keene Police Department. However, these punishments belie the true nature of many KSC students.
The true personalities of the college students are not seen when their neighbors witness their late-night state of intoxication. The Blake Street resident saw this day and night difference in the students when she asked two students living near her to assist with heavy lifting in her son’s wedding preparations. She said, “They were happy to help.” Partying not only affects neighbors and the neighborhood it also affects the business of real-estate. Diamond River Realty’s Ruth Venezia in Keene said, “It’s a problem I would expect on the lower end of Blake closer to Main Street [to be more] difficult to sell to families. I know I wouldn’t want to be woken up at one [a.m.].”
Though neighborhoods are beautiful and peaceful during the day, at night the streets of Keene are filled with loud, disruptive and sometimes dangerous people. The intoxicated behavior of some does not necessarily reflect the character of the typical KSC student. Students should be aware that the price of a night of partying could be a major fine or legal record.
Anna Glassman can be contacted at