Thursday, April 10, 2014

Campus Riots Run Amuck: UConn Basketball 2 Championships - UConn Students 1 Riot

The University of Connecticut’s Woman’s basketball team decisively defeated Notre Dame 79-58 Tuesday evening. Number 1 and Number 2, both undefeated, played for the national title. UConn prevailed, ending the season 40-0 and earning its ninth national title. The University of Connecticut’s Men’s Basketball Team defeated the University of Kentucky 60-54 Monday evening to win the national title, it’s fourth. The University of Connecticut thus won both titles in one year. It has only happened once before, in 2004 – also by UConn. The University of Connecticut had a lot to celebrate. Celebrate it did in its sleepy, rural town of Storrs, Connecticut after Monday’s win over Kentucky. UConn simply joined the recent trend with college campuses. Unfortunately, some students and non-students rioted after the men’s victory. 34 were arrested, of whom 20 were students. The 35 arrests matched the number ten years earlier when UConn also won both titles. Significantly, no riots occurred after the women’s victory. These athletic riots are not a new phenomenon. Rutgers, Maryland, Penn State, and Nebraska have experienced them. The riots cross the spectrum of academic institutions. 5,000 Michigan fans rioted after the 1989 national basketball championship. The fight song became, for a short time afterwards, “Hail to the Victors, Violent.” 5,000 Ohio State fans similarly rioted in Columbus on November 23, 2002 when the Buckeyes defeated Michigan 14-9 during the Ohio State perfect season. 107 fires were started, 20 cars damaged, and 70 arrests followed. Winning a title is a joyous occasion for the school, the team, and the fans. A celebration is in order. But not a riot. It’s not limited to college teams. Laker fans rioted a few years ago after a game. They were outside Staples Center the entire game. Fans on losing teams have been known to vent their spleen by rioting, such as those of Arizona after its loss, and a few fans in Lexington, Kentucky after the Wildcats’ loss to UConn. I remember the campus riots of the 1960’sand 1970’s. They were focused on social issues, such as anti-Vietnam War riots, as well as “Free Speech” and “People’s Park” on the Berkeley campus. Tragedies resulted at Kent State and Jackson State. I also remember one of the jokes at the time. The riots always occurred in the spring (except for Berkeley and San Francisco State) after the snow melted. The students needed to let loose after being confined for months. Think of Frost Belt students loose in Florida for Spring Break. Today’s riots seem to be sheer hedonism and exuberance, fueled by alcohol, underage drinking, and a sense of FUN. The rioters apparently believe they can get away with it because of sheer numbers. Individuals will be lost in the crowd. Some evidence supports the proposition that athletic success is simply the spark, or the excuse, that triggers riots that might otherwise occur. Students two nights ago at Iowa State rioted at 11:30 during the annual Veishea Celebration. The Iowa State President cancelled the remainder of the week-long festival. 55 people, students and non-students, were arrested in Amherst, Massachusetts in pre-St. Patrick’s Day festivities this year. The annual Blarney Blowout is sponsored by bars, and has caught on with University of Massachusetts students. UMass lived up to its nickname “ZooMass. (By way of disclosure, my wife has a masters degree from UMass). Drinking was allowed to commence at 10:30AM. The result with undergrads is highly foreseeable. Over 100 were arrested and 44 hospitalized last Saturday in Santa Barbara during the annual spring break Deltopia. The crowd of 15,000 went out of control. Several police officers were injured. The riots occurred in Isla Vista, often referred to as the student ghetto at UCSB. About 100 were arrested last year with dozens of injuries. Umass and UCSB students subsequently complained about overreaction and police brutality in responding to the riots. The crazed rioters do not realize that their faces are captured by video cameras and smart phones. The Ohio State University showed the way in the aftermath of the November 23, 2002 riots. The police posted online photos of suspects. Not all campuses, and most students do not engage in these riotous activities. The University of Connecticut has successfully used its athletic success to raise its academic profile and improve the quality of the academic program. UConn Law School adopted the motto: “A law school the basketball teams can be proud of.” Huntington Beach became notorious for riots on the 4th of July. The police cracked down, but a riot occurred July 28 on the last day of the U.S. Open of Surfing. Police posted over 20 photos of suspects online. Luis Gonzalez, one rioter, is apparently a dim bulb. He posted he liked his picture. The police wanted him for writing “F_CK the Pigs” on the sides of police cars. Michael Jay Lytle, another suspect, was arrested a few days after the riots. He was an off-duty Fullerton firefighter. A small minority of students and non-students besmirch the reputations of these colleges, but administrators need to take action to prevent such riots in the future. Universities should expel students involved in campus and community riots. Second, turn off the cameras. One lesson from the riots of the 1960’s was that they were energized by the media’s coverage. It is difficult for the media to exercise restrain in covering mass riots. They should not publicize these riots until after they are over.

No comments: