Controversy has sparked between a local business, Keene State’s senior class and the college’s president over how much alcohol is too much.
Some students who attend KSC socialize at bars, concerts or on dates. More often than not, if these individuals are of age, alcohol is on the menu. One occurrence that combines fundraising with celebrating is Pub Crawl, attended by KSC seniors as a way to celebrate their completion of college and raise funds for different organizations.
While the event is not correlated with the college, there is disapprovement with this association of drinking, and students who represent the college from KSC President Anne Huot.
Joe Tolman, alumnus and owner of Bulldog, a custom T-shirt store, confirmed that President Huot asked him not to make the shirts for Pub Crawl since they associated the college with drinking
“She came to me and asked me if I would not print the shirts, but my response was basically no…the shirts are certainly not the problem with the Pub Crawl,” Tolman said.
Tolman said that he could understand where Huot was coming from and was fine with her coming to speak with him. “The basics of the conversation was: she’s trying to help the community and she doesn’t like the black eye of the pub crawl so I just told her, [not] printing the shirts isn’t going to help anything.”
Tolman continued, “I personally think if she wants to try to do something about Pub Crawl, she has to take a handling approach and work with the students to prevent things from happening.”
Tolman also said that by him not printing the shirts, it would negatively affect his business. “So you know it wouldn’t solve anything by not printing the shirts. All it would really do is harm our business more than anything else, because if the kids don’t get them one place, they’ll just get them another place,” he said.
Tolman also mentioned how Pub Crawl brings revenue to the local bars of Keene. “I do have several friends who are bar owners in town and they’re not proponents of Pub Crawl, but also it’s their business and that’s what they do,” he said.
One of the bars that participates in Pub Crawl is Scores Sports Bar & Grille. Lead bartender Joe Paul said he doesn’t have any issue with Pub Crawl.
“We enjoy the fact the seniors come in here to celebrate their graduation,” he said. Paul continued,“We take pride in it.”
Paul said Scores works to maintain organization and prepare for it, but otherwise it’s a great event.
“We don’t have a problem with it,” he said, adding that it brings business and “that for the last two pub crawls that I’ve been here, the students are very respectful and they’re not making any trouble.”
KSC senior Matthew Pereira said he’s heard of campus events being cancelled because they serve alcohol. “First of all, our campus is a wet campus, it’s not a dry campus. If we have events, like Red and White night, [where they] serve alcohol,” he said. Red and White night is similar to a prom for graduating seniors who can invite whomever but only legal students can drink upstairs.
Pereira said KSC has a bad reputation from the media portrayal of the 2014 Pumpkin Festival. “I don’t think we are as bad as other schools are; I think we just get the most heat for it,” he said.
He said he’s not denying that sometimes people can get outrageously drunk, but for some students, there is an element of “wanting to get it out of your system now” before students have to lead more professional lives. “After college, you’re going to have a full-time job, you’re going to have responsibilities and priorities and I’m not saying I don’t have that here, I definitely do,” Pereira said. “I think there are people who balance their party life and their school life.”
From her standpoint, President Anne Huot said she believes that “What you do in college affects you all your life.”
Huot said that research backs her opinion “that the habits you develop in college pretty much stay with you for your life and you know there is no such thing as safe binge drinking.”
Huot said she finds that ‘Pub Crawl’ promotes binge drinking, and she doesn’t want that to have a negative effect on either a student’s health or reputation. “I think any event that has things that might jeopardize the safety of our students is something for me to be concerned about, and that’s true whether it’s a college event or [not]…and this of course is a not a college event,” Huot explained.
KSC senior Pereira explained that at a public institution, legal students should be able to drink, and that doesn’t mean it includes binge drinking.
Huot declined to comment on light drinking for social events, saying that “these are individual choices.” Huot said her opinion does not have any relation to 2014’s Pumpkin Fest. “This has been my opinion all my life, [and] as a seasoned senior administrator who now has the responsibility for a college,” Huot said, “This isn’t something that’s new.”
Huot also said that she’s worried about students making trouble and hurting not only their reputation, but the school’s as well. She said that the outside community has made comments about students’ behaviors. “Of course our neighbors reach out when they find our students’ citizenship not aligning with their values,” she said. “It’s an image that lasts and an image that affects everyone in our community.”
Local resident Walt Sayre said he doesn’t like the way Pub Crawl is now. “In fact, even the name of it, to a bystander, basically…means that the students are going to get so drunk that they can’t walk and they will crawl from pub to pub,” he said.
Sayre said last year he noticed huge groups of students crossing the street without using the crosswalk and it “didn’t seem to be very safe.”
“We want to keep the students safe. I understand that drinking is a fact of life on campus, but I don’t think this activity should just be about drinking,” Sayre said. “I think it should take more of a social form, where drinking is not the main objective.”
Sayre said it would be beneficial if there was a “a panel of students and/or teachers” to establish guidelines for the event. He said that while he doesn’t know exactly what the rules should entail, “they should voice the students.”
Student voices of the class of 2016 encouraged the move for Pub Crawl to fundraise. In an article written last semester by KSC senior Stephanie McCann, KSC seniors Olivia DiLeo and Julie Flynn decided to raise donations after a suggestion was made by a manager at Score’s. The manager stated that after the Pumpkinfest riots, the town of Keene was still “shaken up.” According to McCann’s article, the seniors wanted to show they still appreciated Keene as a city and to maintain a mutual level of respect. DiLeo stated last semester, “This year, we raised money and donated one-thousand dollars each to Community Kitchen [food pantry] and Samaritans [suicide prevention].”
For this semester, Flynn stated in a recent Facebook post, “Donations have been made to Cedarcrest Center and to the fund, ‘For the Love of Edie.’”
Dorothy England can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org