For many students, college is a time to push limits and have fun, however, fun does not always come without costs.
According to Keene State College Office of Residential Life and Housing Services Coordinator of Student and Community Relations Robin Picard, members of the greater Keene community have been complaining about the increasing severity and frequency of off-campus party related noise. That is not to say students should not have parties, Picard said, “There’s not an issue as long as the party is self-contained; it’s indoors, quiet, and doesn’t result in lots of noise or litter in the yard the next day. When a party does involve those things, that’s when the police are called and get involved.”
Unfortunately, Keene Police Department (KPD) Campus Liaison Matthew Bomberg said, the police are called every weekend. Noise complaints are not always limited to the houses the parties are hosted at. Bomberg said a big issue is transient noise; people walking from one party to another in large crowds can be very loud.
Students in these groups may not realize how disturbing they are to local residents, Picard said, especially when alcohol is involved. In these instances, Picard said she suggests students step into their neighbor’s shoes. “Imagine you’re [in your house] and it’s nine, ten or 11 at night and all of a sudden 30-40 people walk down your street,” Picard said. This noise alone would be enough to bother most people, but if there is a party next door to your house, the noise is not going to go away.
Noise is not the only issue that is regularly addressed with KSC students. Picard said students are ticketed on a regular basis for public urination. In parties that are very crowded, it is often difficult to get to the bathroom. Picard said, “They go outside, men and women… but what they don’t realize is that, A: that’s terribly inappropriate, and B: most houses have neighbors that have little kids. Little kids can see our students exposing themselves.” This is another concern of many of Keene’s residents. In response, Picard said, some of them are calling the police and asking them to charge students with exposure instead of public urination, which would go on their record and make it difficult for them to get jobs later on.
Picard said she wants students to think about what they would and would not be willing to put up with in their hometowns. Picard added, “If they have a neighbor in their home neighborhood and the neighbor was urinating on their parents’ lawn or leaving around trash, being noisy or maybe having domestic fights, how would they feel and what would they want to do about it?” College may just be a single phase in the life of KSC students, but for the city’s residents, this is their home. Picard said students should acknowledge this whenever they are partying.
A way students are doing this, said KSC junior Cailla Prisco, is by exchanging contact information with their neighbors. Prisco said she lives off-campus and, especially at the beginning of the year, there were a lot of parties on her street and the ones around her. Despite this, Prisco added, she has never received a noise complaint and infrequently sees police cars in the area.
Prisco said she attributes this to the fact that students in her neighborhood have made an effort to get to know the community members. “If you live near families that you know of, introduce yourself, give them your information… Make sure they know that if you do get too loud, [they should] call you first, not go directly to the cops. Having a good relationship with your neighbors is super important,” Prisco added.
Picard said that she agrees. She added that students should be mindful of their neighbors’ lifestyles. “Students have different lifestyles than neighbors who have small babies or neighbors that are waking up for work in the morning,” Picard said.
That does not mean that KSC students are expected to completely change their lifestyles and stop partying, just that they should be more conscientious of their behaviors and their surroundings.
Picard said she has three major recommendations for KSC students. If you choose to party, do it responsibly. Know everybody that is in your house, at the very least, for your own safety. Make more of an effort to know your neighbors, not just exchanging contact info about a party, but actually go meet them. Say hello, help carry their groceries or shovel their driveway. “Be a bigger part of the neighborhood,” Picard said.
Kalila Brooks can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org