Student Life Editor
In the early hours of a cold Saturday morning on Nov. 17, Keene State College issued a campus lockdown when a man pulled a gun on a student.
Some students received phone calls from City Watch. Some heard from friends. Some slept peacefully through the night, and some walked around Keene, close to the incident, completely unaware as the situation unfolded.
Since the incident, students have both praised and pointed fingers at KSC Campus Safety for the handling of the notifications that were dealt the morning the incident occurred.
According to Campus Safety, City Watch is a crime notification system open to all KSC students.
In the case of an emergency, a Campus Safety supervisor or other authorized City Watch user may send a notification to students regarding the incident.
Campus Safety did just so the morning of the occurrence.
But not all who claimed to have signed up for City Watch received these notifications. Many students voiced concern over a “lack” of warnings and posted notification from the college as the lockdown was placed.
Sophomore Ryan Mahan was one of these students left in the dark. Mahan said he signed up for City Watch but received no phone calls.
Mahan said he had no idea the campus was on lockdown until the next morning when he saw posts on Facebook and tweets on Twitter.
“I checked my email and saw that something was posted by Campus Safety, but I didn’t see that until the next morning when it was done,” he explained. Mahan said he felt uneasy knowing he had been unaware of not only the danger he was in, but the fact his campus was on a lockdown and he had no way of knowing.
“That was a little frustrating,” Mahan said, “I looked through my phone—no missed call.”
The sophomore said he receives emails regularly that encourage students to sign up for City Watch. He then questioned the accuracy of the system and said, “It’s kind of frustrating that they push it on you to sign up and it doesn’t get utilized.”
Mahan continued and said that a friend who is a recent KSC graduate received the City Watch notification calls. “My friend gets the call, but I didn’t?” He questioned. Mahan suggested that the school require students to sign up for City Watch at orientation or once every semester.
“For something like this that’s that serious, [Campus Safety] needs to utilize it. They need to make sure everyone’s notified. Knowing a lot of people were awake and walking around, that’s scary.”
Junior Hannah Gawrys said she signed up for City Watch and said she received no notification phone calls. “I didn’t get anything,” she said.
Sophomore Sean Ballard signed up for City Watch just as Mahan and Gawrys did, only Ballard claimed he received four calls that morning.
Senior Johnathon Donais said through the years he’s been at KSC he has seen “vast improvements” in the protective measures and tools Campus Safety offers KSC students. Donais sited the campus siren, the Blue Light system, and City Watch as “great stuff” for students in the case of an emergency.
Donais said he has been signed up for City Watch and, like others, received no phone calls.
“We have a lot of great stuff on campus, maybe testing should be in place. Maybe they should test warning systems,” he said.
“What if it had been a shooting spree?” Donais continued, “I felt very disconnected.”
Donais identified some of his feelings of being disconnected with the face that he lives off-campus. Donais said a friend who resides in Pondside III forwarded him messages and information.
“I signed up for City Watch but didn’t get a call. All I saw was the stuff The Equinox was posting,” he continued, “It makes you wonder about the reliability of the system in place.”
Junior Rebecca Farr lives on Blake Street, three houses down from where the incident initially began. Farr said, “I had no idea that he was in my neighborhood and that’s really scary. Especially since we didn’t get the notification until 1 in the afternoon, the next day.”
Farr added that no police or Campus Safety personnel notified her or her roommates that they were in immediate danger.
“It put us at risk because what if we decided to walk to Ramunto’s to get pizza that night, which we do often, and we had no idea what was going on just three houses down.”
Other students like Mahan and Gawrys agreed with Farr’s suggestion that a higher Campus Safety and police presence both on and off campus as the situation unfolded would have made them feel more safe.
Students agreed that aside from emails and phone calls, notification by word of mouth from police to students would have made them feel more safe and informed.
Rebecca Farr is also signed up for the City Watch notification system but she said she didn’t get a call or text message until 1 o’clock the next day, informing her that the gunman was still at large.
Resident Assistant of Holloway Hall, Allie Bedell said that she got the City Watch notifications from Campus Safety. Bedell said she registered for City Watch last year but some RA’s were required to register before Hurricane Sandy happened this year.
Although Bedell received the notifications, she said that an RA that registered for the notifications this year was not notified via City Watch about the incident.
Another RA in Butler Hall, Chelsey Puza said not only did she not receive the City Watch notifications, but her Residence Director, Megan Barbato did not notify her about the incident the night it occurred.
Puza also registered for City Watch prior to Hurricane Sandy.
Julie Conlon can be contacted at
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