By Caitlyn Doherty
A Keene State College public relations class, from Oct. 9-16, randomly surveyed 500 students and found out that 313 or 62.6 percent of survey respondents said they are expecting to party on Pumpkin Fest weekend.
While the focus of this survey was the Oct. 27 Pumpkin Fest from 1-7 p.m., survey respondents expressed anecdotally that because it was Halloween weekend, there was more of reason to go out, get dressed up and party with their friends. In fact, 425 or 85 percent of respondents said they will be in Keene for this weekend.
KSC senior and class participant, Gregory Hemmer said, “[KSC] Students want to party, not riot.”
The riots of Pumpkin Fest 2014 were not new to Keene, but more a crescendo to spiraling student behavior that started with the Boston Red Sox when they won a rematch of the 2003 American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees, according to Keene Police Captain and Head of Field Operations, Steven Stewart.
The class briefed city and college officials Monday, Oct. 23, about the survey’s result, reporting that 210 or 42 percent of respondents said they “don’t care” about a visible police presence. But from the anecdotal data the students said they heard from the respondents, was that they were going to party either way if there was a visible police presence or not.
In 2014, according to USA Today, there were “at least 14 arrests made early Sunday morning,” after the Pumpkin Fest. The Union Leader reported that Keene Fire Chief Mark Howard said at least 30 people were injured, while 20 people had to be sent to the hospital.
Eighty-five or 17 percent of respondents came to the conclusion that they would, “feel more safe.” But, at the same time, 148 or 29.6 percent said they are “nervous” by a visible police presence.
While 54 or 10.8 percent of respondents said a visible police presence would “make them angry” or “want to revolt.”
After the class presentation, Dean of Students Gail Zimmerman said, “It [Pumpkin Fest] became a destination event [during 2014]… It was fueled by external individuals descended on the city…external people ramping up and hyping up the party. How do students respond to that?”
KSC senior and class participant, Olivia Sloan, said that the way social media responded to the event seemed to spark more disruption. Now three years later, Sloan said, “The underclassmen [at KSC] don’t know what Pumpkin Fest is.”
Interim President Melinda Treadwell said she also reached out to other University System of New Hampshire (USNH) schools, like University of New Hampshire (UNH) and Plymouth State University (PSU) to say Pumpkin Fest is a small event this year. She also said if any USNH students get arrested while in Keene this weekend, they would get penalized at the school they attend.
Treadwell expressed how “deeply grateful” she was to the students having conducted this survey.
Mayor Kendall Lane expressed how important Keene State is to the city of Keene, but said, “It’s up to the students [of KSC] if it’s going to be a positive event or a negative one.”
College leaders who were also at the meeting included Provost William Seigh and Coordinator of Student and Community Relations Robin Picard.
“Students should still enjoy their weekend while they always would, but be safe and don’t push the boundaries,” Treadwell said. “Let’s have a really fun weekend.”
Caitlyn Doherty can be contacted at email@example.com.