Students support community by cleaning up aftermath of weekend riots

Equipped with brooms and gloves as well as other cleaning supplies, students carrying trash bags filled with the aftermath of the Keene weekend riots flooded the streets on the morning of Oct. 19 to help clean both the Keene State College campus and the surrounding off-campus streets affected by the situation.

Julie Cerbone, a KSC junior who lives off-campus on Winchester Court and experienced the chaos brought on by day-time parties in her neighborhood, said she was pleased by the students who showed up at her doorstep to help clean her yard.

“I was so surprised. I woke up in the morning thinking I was going to have to clean up all of the beer bottles and cans and other garbage that kids just threw across the street,” Cerbone said, “It was a mess, but students that I’ve never even met started coming by early to clean up everything. It was so nice of them.”

Another resident of Winchester Court, senior Derek Gillis, had similar feelings about the help on the streets that morning.

“It was really refreshing,” Gillis said, “It obviously got out of hand on Saturday and everyone was feeling bad and uneasy about what went down here, so it felt good to see that students do care and respect Keene.”

Gillis stressed that the cleanup on Sunday morning represented KSC.

“I think Sunday’s actions by the students show the true character of Keene, not the riots on Saturday,” Gillis stated.

Tim Smith / Equinox Staff

Tim Smith / Equinox Staff

Late Saturday night, Keene State College Student Involvement took to Facebook and Twitter to announce that they’d be hosting a last minute campus-wide event to clean up Keene.

Bobby Graham, KSC Student Involvement president, said he was in charge of putting it all together.

The Facebook post read, “Meet at Hoot N’ Scoot at 10 a.m. to help #CleanUpKeene. Wear Keene State College apparel. Let us represent ourselves in a way that is accurate to who Keene State students are.”

Graham also said he posted similar messages on the Student Involvement Twitter account, as well as his own personal account.

Junior Steve Rogers was one of the many students who voluntarily came out to clean. Rogers said he and his friends awoke to the tweet from Student Involvement and immediately knew what they had to do.

“We walked around the streets with shovels and trash bags just picking up everything we saw. A lot of kids had brooms and were trying to sweep up all the glass,” Rogers said.

Rogers continued, “When we first got outside, we saw how many students were already on the streets with shovels and trash bags already cleaning. We love this town and we love the Pumpkin Fest tradition and we wanted to show the City of Keene that we aren’t just college kids here to party.”

Rogers spoke of the support he and his friends wanted to implement around the community of Keene.

“We wanted to show our support for the community for putting on this spectacular event year after year,” Rogers said.

KSC sophomore Ally McNamee was another student who decided to help clean the aftermath of the riots.

“I hope people can have respect that this is our home while we’re here at college, but it’s also not just ours. It’s a community. There are a lot of people here today helping to pick up and I think it really does bring a community together especially after last night,” McNamee said, “This isn’t just a college campus. This is a town. We ruined it for the rest of the town this year. It’s time we show support.”

McNamee, like Rogers, spoke of the strong community aspect that KSC students showed during the clean-up.

“It’s important to know that the riots weren’t the entire campus. It was a small group of people. There are so many people who were helping last night and are helping today. We are a community. We are here to help each other. That’s why I’m out here this morning,” McNamee said.

Senior Sam McCloghry said she lives on Blake St., where most of the riots occurred, and knew she had to help out the next day.  She said she and her roommates came across Graham’s tweet from his personal account and decided they needed to be a part of the cleanup.

“It was devastating watching the place where we live and go to school become completely destroyed,” McCloghry said, “When I walked outside with a garbage bag [Sunday] morning, I was blown away at what I saw. Endless amounts of beer bottles, beer cans, garbage, shattered glass, clothing donation bins turned upside down on the sidewalk, street signs lying in the grass. It was horrifying.”

McCloghry explained her personal reasons for participating in the cleanup.

“I wanted to show that we are a part of a campus community that really does care about the safety of the school, the students, and the residents,” McCloghry said.

Cerbone continued to talk about the importance of coming together as a campus.

“It’s just crazy what happened. A car was flipped last night,” Cerbone said, “I just love that everyone is helping each other out so much today. This shows who we are.”

The car that Cerbone said was flipped was a 2001 Nissan Maxima owned by Tyler Bagdonas, a visitor from Lowell, Mass., according to a page dedicated to funding donations for Bagdonas to purchase a new car.

According to the page, a DJ named Mike Tetreault, who was in Keene Saturday night to play at a private party and has no ties to Bagdonas, created the fundraising page.

This is only another story of how KSC is recovering from the aftermath of the riots together.

Another Blake St. resident, junior Ben Flanders, said he saw firsthand how the community came together.

“I’m witnessing it right now from my front porch. Everyone is helping out to clean my neighborhood. We’re all working together. They may not have been involved in the events, but everyone is coming together,” Flanders said.

McCloghry summed the aftermath up as she talked about what it was like seeing everyone cleaning up the mess.

“It was really incredible to see so many people the night before causing damage but then so many more people from KSC the next morning coming together in town. We had people driving by us while we were sweeping glass in the streets and they were thanking us for what we were doing,” McCloghry said.

McCloghry continued, “It’s just really great to know that we were able to help. It reminded me of what a great place Keene State really is.”

Stephanie McCann can be contacted at


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