Does KSC have a ‘sensationalized’ party reputation?
After a busy week of classes, Keene State College students prefer to unwind on Thursday nights instead of stressing out about homework—whether it’s going out to party or staying in with friends.
The KSC Debate Club and select community members discussed on Monday, March 25, 2012 in the Mabel Brown Room the consequences of how some students choose to relax after a week of hard work.
The open forum held during the last hour of the event brought in six community members who shared their thoughts on drug and alcohol use at KSC and posed further questions for the debate team. Team one of the debate consisted of sophomore Ryan Scriviano and senior Benjamin Horowitz (an Equinox staff writer); team two consisted of sophomore Graham Ayres and Chris Marion. Eager attendees filled the seats as it drew closer to the opening discussion. Junior Ginny Chamberlin stated, “I’m really excited about learning what they have to say because I think it’s really relevant to today.”
Interim Coordinator of Student Conduct at KSC Jim Carley began by asking the debaters how KSC’s reputation as a party school affects them as students.
Regarding KSC being viewed as a party school, Marion said, “It’s sensationalized in our vision of partying on a college campus,” he said, referencing current movies about the college life. Marion continued, “Really, any college is going to be considered a ‘party school.’” Scriviano considered the other side of the posed debate, “Even though this is a ‘party school,’ there are students on this campus that get involved. You’re going to take advantage of your time in college or you’re not,” he said.
Vice President of Student Affairs Paul Striffolino said he doesn’t think that the majority of KSC students go out and party every weekend. Striffolino said that there are about 120 student organizations on the KSC campus. “Each of those organizations have five, six, seven [or] eight leadership positions so right there you’ve got five, six [or] seven hundred students in leadership roles,” Striffolino said.
Striffolino expalined that those students who do party and make their way back home and are loud, the neighbors around them will hear them being loud and make assumptions about all of our students; this may be how we get the reputation as a party school. With over 23 events happening on campus within the next five weeks, Striffolino added that there are alternatives to going to the bars and drinking. Striffolino said that the attendance at campus events has increased over the years. “One of the things that we started this year that Jen Ferrell has been doing have been late night programs, specifically designed for programs that start at 10 or 11 o’clock at night and go until one or one-thirty in the morning,” Striffolino said, providing options for students who like to stay up late but prefer not to go out drinking.
Senior Caitlin Eddolls said she thinks KSC is no different than other schools and that any school can be viewed as a party school. Senior Elisha Wamsley said she grew up in Brattleboro, Vt. and didn’t originally want to come to KSC because of its reputation as a party school, but a few years later she decided to apply.
Wamsley explained, “During my transfer orientation I remember the speech that the student body president said, ‘This experience is what you make of it. Go forth and grab every experience that you possibly can to make this experience be rewarding for you,’” she said. Carley shifted gears and explained that campus damage is often due to drug or alcohol-related incidents. Carley said, “Anywhere from probably a quarter to a half of the damage that happens on campus that you as students get charges for are from drug and/or alcohol abuse and that can range anywhere from $15-30,000 [per year].” Carley continued and said there have been 644 conduct incidents that have happened in 2013 before spring break.
He explained these 644 incidents involved 1,013 students and 51 percent of these incidents involved alcohol abuse and 99 of them involved drug use.
Carley added that a total of nine students have been suspended from KSC in the 2013 school year from drug and alcohol abuse.
The event’s moderator, Professor Brian Kanouse, posed a further question about KSC as a party school.
Kanouse asked, “Is the issue we’re finding strictly about the Keene State College students or also about the environment in Keene that invites a type of excessive behavior?” The Program Director of Cheshire Coalition for Tobacco Free Communities Kathleen McNally responded to Kanouse and stated, “The new principal at Keene High School came to Keene and found an alarming rate of incidents as a result of underage drinking and abusing medications and so it’s an issue not just for KSC but it’s our community’s issue.”
According to the Director of KSC Counseling Center Brian Quigley, only six percent of students come into the counseling center to get help with alcohol related issues. “We’re a culture that undeniably stigmatizes, devalues, shames and makes people feel horrible for the problem that they end up having for overusing drugs and alcohol,” Quigley continued, “If we’re only seeing six percent of students come in for some help around drugs and alcohol, within our culture we’re making those people feel that they can’t reach out and get help.”
There was only time to debate four of the five chosen topics for the night and the teams ended up in a tie.
Megan Grenier can be contacted at