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Petition protests Keene State's Pumpkin Festival guest ban, $100 fine

By MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent

October 18. 2017 9:19PM
One of the photos submitted to Keene police in the wake of the rioting on the weekend of the Keene Pumpkin Festival. (UNION LEADER FILE)



KEENE — An online petition is protesting a no-guest policy at Keene State College residence halls over Keene Pumpkin Festival weekend.

A college spokesman said Wednesday that officials will not reverse the decision.

“The policy is not new, and it has been put in place in years past,” Keene State spokesman Kelly Ricaurte said in an email Wednesday. “It’s an institutional policy that is intended to ensure the safety of our students and our campus community — out of an abundance of caution it is being used during this year’s festivals.”

In 2014, riots broke out in a college neighborhood outside of the festival area, leading to scores of arrests. City councilors refused to grant a festival permit in 2015. A scaled-down version of the festival is returning this year after a prolonged council debate.

Keene State College student Alexander Pappas started the online petition Monday on Change.org. It had 425 signers as of Wednesday evening.

“They also announced a $100 fine for each guest that is found and they’d have to go through disciplinary actions for the students. I found this completely unjust and unfair ... and when I decided to start a petition to appeal the school’s decision, I found out a lot of people feel like I do,” Pappas said in an email to the Union Leader.

The university policy includes a $100 fine per guest from Oct. 26 to Oct. 29, Ricaurte said,

“This only applies to our residence halls and if students want to have parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc., they can ask for a waiver,” she said in an email. “If they had planned something in advance that includes plane tickets, concert tickets etc., they could also get a waiver ... provided they prove the tickets were purchased prior to the announcement being made.”

Many signers of the petition said their parents were planning to visit them that weekend; one student said her parents were visiting because her birthday is that Saturday.

Ricaurte said the petition will not change the decision of the college.

“The college places the wellbeing of our community first, and the policy will remain in place,” she said.

mpierce@newstote.com


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