Robberies rule fall, bottle bombs disrupt spring

KSC students deem academic year ‘unusual’ in terms of crime and violence


Julie Conlon

Managing Executive Editor


With time comes change and with change comes adjustment. No year at Keene State College is the same as the year before. Students evolve and the campus goes with it.

The 2012-13 academic school year was something different. But it was not the classes taught, the incoming freshmen class, or the on-campus student run activities that made Campus Safety Director Amanda Warman name this year as “unusual.”

It was the violence, the crime, and the disruption of what has always been a peaceful, safe and fun Keene life.









According to Warman, KSC Campus Safety saw a fifteen percent increase incident reports from January 2013 to the end of April 2013, compared to the same dates of the previous year. Warman also saw an increase in service calls this year, rising fifty-eight percent.

Warman said it is best for the campus when people are active and aware of dangerous or suspicious activity.

Noting the increase in service calls, Warman said, “I think that tells us two things. One of them is that I think people are more aware and calling more often about things. I think there’s an overall state of heightened awareness of things that are security related, and to me that’s a good thing. Some of it is related to incidents that have occurred on campus and some of it’s related to things that have happened to the rest of the country and the world.”

Warman said this year has been particularly unusual, but noted that in the realm of Campus Safety, every year is unusual.

To split the school year between semesters, Warman categorized the fall with a series of robberies.  “That was really unusual,” Warman said, referring to on-campus incidents, several resulting in the threat of weapons.

“I think it’s reflective in some of the things happening in Keene in general, not just KSC,” she said, “There’s some of the crimes that have to do with money and property that have to do with poverty and unemployment—some of them have to do with drug and alcohol abuse. I think there’s a myriad of problems that it’s really hard when you talk about crime to draw a straight line between cause and effect.”

KSC senior Amanda Mills was held at gun-point on campus in December, 2012. Mills said this year has been unlike any other year in terms of violence in crime on and off-campus.

Mills noted the cause to some of this disruption does not reside on the Keene campus itself, rather, the residents of the Keene community.  Mills said she noticed more Keene residents mingling with students this year, particularly in the bar scene.  “I guess they’re trying to be friendlier this year but it’s causing trouble. Students being drunk—it’s a clash. It’s not a good place for them to be together when alcohol is involved,” the senior said.

Mills said this year was the first year she lived off-campus and wondered if perhaps living out of the on-campus “bubble” just exposed her to what was already happening in Keene.  “It’s more like fair game once you step off campus to pull out a knife or gun without having to worry about getting in trouble for it,” she said, “But I think the crime has definitely escalated. There have been random and pretty awful instances that I haven’t heard before taking place this year. I’m not sure why these things are happening.”

For Mills and her roommates, she said they “could not catch a break” the whole year, with the gun incidents and several uncomfortable encounters with homeless people and drunk non-college Keene people harassing them on the streets.  “It’s sad but I feel like every time we walk by someone who appears to be from the town, we get a little nervous and walk a little faster. It’s unfair that this has to be that way but this year has pushed us to that,” she said, but noted that not all people in Keene are “bad.”

Warman said the times are changing. “We’re not the same small town that we were fourteen or fifteen years ago,” she said.

Junior Brittany Burnham said she felt there was more happening on and off campus in terms of crime this year compared to her previous years as a KSC student.  “There’s definitely been a lot more of those crime and safety awareness updates,” she said, “That one about the armed robbery on campus really kind of freaked me out. Just because of all the school shootings and stuff going on I think that one really freaked everybody out. There’s definitely a lot more going on than last year. Last year I don’t really remember any of those crime safety awareness ones. I can’t see any reason behind it.”

Senior Will Frigon disagreed and said the 2012-13 year seemed no more unusual or different than his past three years as a student in Keene.  “It doesn’t seem too out of place,” he said, “I feel like those were pretty isolated incidents and besides those two [gun and knife] incidents there hasn’t been much that I’ve noticed. I always feel safe in Keene walking around. I would never hesitate to go somewhere by myself but I know some people don’t feel the same.”

Sophomore Caitlin Licence would be one of those students Frigon referred to who does not feel as safe in Keene anymore.

Licence recalled most reports coming from campus safety last year were in lei of weather. Licence said she lives on-campus in Owls Nest, near where there have been recent bottle bomb incidents.

“Living on campus I feel more afraid that we’re centered, like if something was going to happen it would happen on campus,” she said, “I feel like all the stuff that has been happening nationally has been sparking ideas in peoples’ heads. I’ve never witnessed any of this happening so it’s kind of that feeling like it doesn’t happen because I haven’t witnessed it, so for the most part I feel safe.”

Despite what seems to be a great increase in crime, Warman stated that the violent crime rate has been on a decrease over the past year. Warmen said situations like Newtown and Boston may set a spark to copycats, mentioning the on- and off-campus bottle bomb incidents occurring. But she also blamed the twenty-four-hour media cycle students are hooked to as, yes, an excellent tool of information, but also a key factor to the idea that there is danger everywhere and crime is on the rise.

“We find out about things now that we would never have found out about ten or fifteen years ago. We’re constantly barraged by information,” she said. Even so, recent events have led to Warman and her team increasing security and training both with officers and with faculty and staff. Warman explained she has led workshops with KSC faculty and staff for them to learn to identify troubling behaviors in their classrooms.

“Any time you do education you’re going to increase the number of reports because people are more informed, and that’s an okay thing. We went into this undertaking knowing that was going to happen. I would rather know than not know,” Warman stated.

The director said something that she loves about the students at KSC is their “pride in place.” She mentioned how she sees students picking up trash on campus and how people always hold the door open for the person behind them when walking in and out of the student center.

“There’s a real pride in place,” she said, “It’s become a part of our culture. Now we need to be creating a culture where safety is a priority.”


Julie Conlon can be contacted at

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