Frequently Asked Questions
Reporting Concerns to Keene State and Securing Support
Q. How do I report bias and discrimination to Keene State? What happens after I make a report?
A. Addressing issues of bias, hate, and discrimination are of utmost importance to the College. The College has made it even easier to report concerns and to get confidential help. Visit this page to report an incident, and a dedicated staff member will reach out to you quickly to talk with you and determine next steps.
Q. What is Keene State doing to make students of color feel safe and heard?
A. Making sure that all students are heard and feel safe is incredibly important to the entire College. Support is provided by multiple staff members and professors from across the College. Students are also encouraged to reach out to dedicated staff in the Office of Multicultural Student Support for help, and to express concerns. We take any reports very seriously and are working on plans to create further engagement around our diversity, equity and inclusion programs, and we will invite stakeholders representing various college groups to participate.
Information Regarding the On-Campus Student Incident and Arrest in March 2020
Q. Why didn’t people hear about what happened until 2021?
A. Keene State carefully protects the privacy of students – it is the right thing to do, and in many cases, is required by federal law. Conversations are between the College and the students themselves when an incident is reported – this is why the College did not disclose information from the beginning. Students may choose to share information publicly if they wish, as was the case from the incident in March 2020 when the students publicly shared details in January 2021.
Q. Was bias part of the March 2020 student incident? If so, what is being done about it?
A. It is important to both the College and the City to have an accurate understanding about whether bias of any kind was part of the incident in March 2020. A thorough, objective internal and external review of the College’s response to the circumstances on that day showed that, although heightened emotions were clearly at play in, there was not evidence that the actions or statements from the Keene State employees demonstrated racial bias against the students involved. However, implicit and explicit bias impacts all of our engagements as humans, and we must remain committed to reflection and improvement following circumstances when we are questioned.
As the Keene Police Department continues its work to meet accreditation standards and state requirements with regard to policing and bias, the Keene Police Department is welcoming world-renowned conflict resolution expert and Keene State professor, Dr. Jim Waller, and Cohen Center Director Peter McBride, for an expanded implicit bias and ethics training. Keene State Campus Safety will also participate in the training, which will be held in May 2021. The College understands opportunity remains to build on training and resources that have already been provided and are currently underway,
including de-escalation training and continued learning about gender identity. All Community Living (former Residential Life) staff members received bias training right away, and more training will be provided to ensure that we reflect, learn and grow as a community committed to change and improvement.
Q. Did Keene Police Department handle the situation the right way? Did they send too many officers?
A. Keene Police Department has been a long-time partner of the College, and proudly recognized for their work to exceed the accreditation requirements for their profession in the very areas questioned by the students involved in the March incident on campus. Our Keene State Campus Safety officers support students and the College community, but they are not sworn police officers. In fact, we defer authority to the City of Keene when sworn officers are requested for assistances under our policies.
An internal and external review of what happened that day in March 2020 was completed to accurately and objectively understand the circumstances presented, the application of our risk protocols and our engagement of the Keene Police Department. In addition to the implicit bias and ethics training to be delivered in May 2021, we are exploring our future collaboration. Specifically, we are exploring the structure and professional skills and collaboration for our campus safety team with the City to ensure that we can increasingly, and effectively hold our values, have authority to act when possible, and call for additional support as appropriate in response to situations like those presented in March.
Q. What is Keene State’s response to the faculty petition that was shared with the College?
A. The messages in the faculty petition are taken very seriously by the College. Protecting the privacy of the two students involved in the March 2020 incident remains extremely important – this means that a great deal of information will not be shared with our faculty and staff. Since the petition was issued, a series of conversations have been held to listen, learn, and plan additional opportunities for specific actions and ongoing engagement in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at the College. Every employee at the College is dedicated to the health and wellbeing of our students – this is an important time to unite and deliver on this shared commitment.