A new law from the city of Keene means a policy change for Keene State College students and new responsibilities for Residential Life employees.
The new city ordinance was put into place in December while students were on winter break. It prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from buying any type of tobacco product, liquid nicotine, or electronic cigarettes in the city of Keene.
This required the college to change its current tobacco policy in order to follow the city’s laws and regulations. It’s an RA’s job to enforce the college’s policies to its residents, regardless of when that policy changes.
RAs told their students during their floor meetings this semester that if your RA recognizes you as under 21 on campus and you are using any type of tobacco product, including vape products, they are obligated to write you up and are allowed to confiscate it.
First-year student Kristina Clay thought that the policy violates student’s rights and gives RAs too much responsibility. “What’s the point of us being 18 if we can go over to the next town and do it legally? They tell us we are at college and we are adults now and then they try and control us in ways like this. It’s not fair to us. It’s not like we’re going to stop what we are doing,” Clay said. “It feels like RAs are looking at us even more now and are trying to get us in trouble. It feels like we have no privacy anymore. We have to watch out for something we are doing when we could do it legally literally two months ago. Everyone just wants the policy to go back to the way it was.”
Sophomore and new Resident Assistant Emily Emery said her residents have been reacting different since they found out about the policy change. “They’re hiding more stuff from us,” Emery said. “And they don’t want people telling them what not to do. You want to be liked as an RA, you don’t want to be disliked.”
Although she understands why students are upset, Emery wants everyone to know that people at the college are only following the law. “We just have to keep reminding students that it’s not the college doing this, it’s the city, and we are just doing our jobs,” Emery said.
Any student who violates this policy will go through the Office of Student Conduct.
Jack Hanson can be contacted at