The debate club got their discussion on at Keene State College’s annual Modern Issues Surrounding College Culture Debate, exploring topics of the Yik Yak app, freshmen-sophomore housing and the inevitable Pumpkin Fest. Presented by The American Democracy Project, debate club members Ryan Scrivano, Alyssa DeMarco, Rory Bogel and Nick Hebert disputed in the Mabel Brown Room on Wednesday, Nov. 12. 

Secretary of KSC’s debate club Matthew Pereira facilitated the debate and explained that each of the teams would have three minutes to explain their main points on the chosen topic, followed by a counter argument for another three, ensued by a conclusion. At the end of each argument the audience was given the chance to vote for the team that best presented their case . . .

Colton McCracken / Equinox Staff

Colton McCracken / Equinox Staff


Should Yik Yak be banned on campus:

Team 1, consisting of Scrivano and DeMarco, represented the pro-banning of Yik Yak on campus. Scrivano began by stating that inappropriate statements can be posted on Yik Yak that sometimes “targets specific individuals” and is a form of disturbing the peace in the Keene community.

He explained that because Keene is a small school, it is not hard for a specific group of people to be zoomed in on.

Scrivano specified that Yik Yak is a community issue and analyzed the idea that even though Yik Yak is an app designed for adults over the age of 18, anyone can download it, causing an “indirect form of cyber bullying” in high schools.

DeMarco argued that there is a standard to be set for social networking at KSC. She mentioned that anyone in the community has access to the app depending on their Wi-Fi server and the people saying negative things should be “held accountable for what they’re saying.”

The team concluded that Yik Yak is not safe for campus because there is no way to verify the age of the app user and there are no consequences for cases of cyberbullying.

Team 2, consisting of Bogel and Hebert, represented the opposition for banning Yik Yak and argued that the app is similar to popular websites such as Twitter or YouTube.

Hebert said he believes a student shouldn’t be away at school if they have excessive anxiety over a cell phone app.

He completed his argument with the suggestion that if students don’t like the concept of the app, they have the ability to “simply not download it.”

Bogel continued with the theory that Yik Yak is comparable to other social networks as early as the 1999 messaging boards.

“If you’re attempting to eliminate cyberbullying, you might as well remove Facebook and Twitter,” he argued.

Team 2 concluded that banning the app would not eliminate cyber-bullying altogether and negative feedback on the app would “prepare users for the real world.”

The audience voted that Team 2 had a stronger argument and won the first debate.


Should underclassmen live on campus:

Team 2 began the debate by comparing the differences of living on and off campus. Bogel mentioned Resident Assistants, quiet hours and guest limitations for on-campus housing and compared that to the freedom of off-campus housing. He said he believes the college should “promote personal responsibility and preparing for the ‘real world.’”

Bogel explained his idea that people with different ambitions should have the option of living on campus or off.

Hebert argued that it is important for a student not to need a guardian while at school.

“You can join the military, you can die for your country but you can’t live off-campus at a college,” he said.

Hebert said the idea of having an RA “seems like a pacifier for the real world.”

The team concluded by arguing that not having the freedom of living off-campus does not allow a student to grow as an adult.

Team 1 rebutted by exposing the idea that on-campus living is a different atmosphere than off-campus.

Scrivano argued that a dorm, rather than a house, is a safer place for an underclassman to live.

“Some kids are not raised with that type of responsibility,” he said.

Scrivano discussed the idea that living on campus their first two years will give students enough time to mature.

He also examined the topics of paying bills and underage drinking.

DeMarco continued with the idea that every dorm is different.

She explained that living on-campus can help a student learn everyday life skills such as doing laundry and grocery shopping.

Team 1 concluded that living on-campus is more ideal as a student would be saving more money and meeting new people.

The audience voted that Team 1 had a stronger argument and won the second debate.


Should Pumpkin Fest happen next October:

DeMarco joined Bogel, representing Team 2, pro-Pumpkin Fest, and Scrivano and Hebert collaborated for Team 1, arguing that Pumpkin Fest should not occur in 2015.

Team 2 initiated the debate with the observation that no riots occurred in downtown Keene, where Pumpkin Fest was taking place.

DeMarco argued that the activities downtown were not affected by the riots happening off campus.

She added that not all rioters were from KSC and that this issue of rioting remains a community problem.

Bogel argued that the businesses in downtown Keene would be negatively affected if Pumpkin Fest did not occur in 2015.

“For many local businesses, Pumpkin Fest brings in forty percent of their annual income,” he explained.

Bogel also exemplified “That the police were entirely wrong,” in the position that they were needed for a domestic issue outside of Pumpkin Fest and could not be of assistance.

He explained that their resources could have been more evenly spread out throughout Keene.

Team 1 fought back, with the argument that ethics are more important than finances — that Pumpkin Fest is too “hyped up” on campus and it puts the neighborhoods of Keene at risk.

Scrivano explained that the media hyped up Pumpkin Fest after previous years. He said he believed that bringing in helicopters and heavily-armed guards “puts the community at risk.”

Hebert debated that Pumpkin Fest should not occur next year because keeping students and families safe is more important than a business making money. He said he believes there are different ways of advertising a business rather than relying on large income one day a year.  Team 1 concluded that Pumpkin Fest was not expected to occur as it did and the responsibility “ultimately falls on KSC,” referring to the idea that it is Keene’s responsibility to refrain from hosting Pumpkin Fest in 2015 as it is unsafe and unpredictable.

The audience voted that both teams tied.


. . . At the end of the debates, an open forum was held for the audience.

For the reason that many students attended the debate for an extra credit assignment, not many were willing to get involved in the conversation.

Although she did not participate in the forum, Senior Casey Szmyt was most interested in the Pumpkin Fest debate.

“I’m torn on it because they both made good arguments,” she stated. Szmyt said she felt that the reputation of the school is an important enough reason for Pumpkin Fest not to occur in 2015.

“Even though I love Pumpkin Fest, I agree with both sides,” Emily Murphy, senior at KSC said.

She said she believes that the safety of students is important during a time like Pumpkin Fest.

The debate club will be holding their last meeting of the semester on Wednesday, Nov. 19 in the Media Arts Center.


MacKenzie Clarke can be contacted at

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