Students: Riot Does Not Represent Keene State College - NECN
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Students: Riot Does Not Represent Keene State College

After clashes between police and crowds in Keene, New Hampshire, students hope a reputation of violence does not follow their school.



    After clashes between police and crowds in Keene, New Hampshire, students hope a reputation of violence does not follow their school. (Published Monday, Oct. 20, 2014)

    Two days after violence erupted near Keene State College, students are looking to prove that the riot does not define their New Hampshire school.

    "It was definitely a lot of visitors," said freshman Mary Jacobs.

    Jacobs' friend, Taylor Handy, agreed.

    "Obviously, we are to blame," said Handy. "But we are not the only ones."

    According to Student Body President Bobby Graham, the majority of students were not involved in the riots.

    "Absolutely not. That is not Keene State, at all," he said.

    Graham was on campus Saturday, trying to help people in distress. He says when things turned violent, most Keene State students went inside and stopped partying.

    "When I was out there helping people, I didn't see faces I recognized," said Graham. "And if I did, I saw spectators."

    Still, people who live in this community are appalled.

    "It was horrible, lives were in danger," said Keene resident Susan Seilke. "It is not fair to city residents."

    Sunday, many students went out to help clean up their campus. Some of them told NECN they felt terribly about the issues.

    Law enforcement officials in riot gear and rowdy crowds clashed twice Saturday during the Keene Pumpkin Festival. The first of the incidents took place when a college party just off campus got out of control.

    Police say at least 30 people were hurt by thrown rocks, full beer cans, bottles of alcohol and even billiard balls. Some kids were injured after jumping off rooftops and into crowds.

    Police in SWAT gear were forced to use pepper balls, batons, K-9s and sponge bullets to try and control the crowds.

    Now, residents are calling on Keene State College to impose the harshest punishment on any students involved in the chaos.

    "I would encourage the college to expel students," Seilke said.

    Other residents think dismissal is a good idea to set an example.

    "It would leave a mark for the rest of them, if they thought about doing that again, do they really want to get expelled for throwing bottles and starting fires," said Debra Lapinsky.

    Sunday, Keene State College President Anne Huot reiterated that the students involved would be held responsible, as she said Saturday night.

    "Regretfuly, Keene endured a great deal over this weekend. We care deeply about the citizens of Keene and our students, and we lament the impact of inexcusable behaviors on our city," said Huot in a statement. "We are actively working to identify the individuals who participated in unlawful behavior."

    Huot added that the damage is being repaired and officials are working to "find long-term solutions."

    Graham points out the hundreds of students are trying to make things right. He says he understands completely why community members are so outraged, and agrees that in some cases, expulsion might be the answer.

    "The whole part of college is to try and find your place in the world and if you're not going to become a part of this and share our endeavors then you have no part in being here," Graham said.

    He told NECN that some of his classmates are traumatized and can't sleep at night because of the violence they saw over the weekend.
    There is a forum for students, faculty, and staff in the Mabel Brown Room at the Student Center at 7 p.m. Monday.

    There were 60,000 people enjoying the Pumpkin Festival on Main Street in Keene, while thousands of people rioted about a mile away. Several city residents told NECN they want to thank officers for being able to contain the violence in those neighborhoods, keeping the families and young children at the festival safe.

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