This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.
UMass has a pretty steady reputation as a party school; there’s no denying it. A lot of students here like to have a good time. Sometimes that good time, however, gets a little too extreme. Consider last year when the Red Sox Riot in Southwest quickly escalated from a fun celebration to a full-blown riot.
Blarney Blowout was a whole other story, making national headlines.
How to contain the damage these riots cause both the school’s infrastructure and reputation is a discussion that always follows such incidents. Should the cops have shown up in riot gear? Was excessive force used? Why are UMass students hell bent on rioting anyway? Also, who thought that holding a public viewing for the whole school in the middle of Southwest was a good way to keep rowdy students from gathering? How can we stop these situations from going too far and getting so out of control when they do occur?
For this year’s Super Bowl, the administration took a controversial route to quell any out-of-line behavior; no one was allowed in any residence halls but their own from noon February 1st to noon February 2nd. On top of this, all Southwest dining facilities closed by 8:30 pm, essentially attempting to shut the whole residence area down. Needless to say, students were displeased.
Police were on the scene long before the game was over. But regardless of the precautions, students were determined to gather.
For some kids, it’s an unofficial rite of passage as a UMass student to attend a “riot”. There’s always going to be those kids who go for the sake of starting trouble; they want to yell “f*ck the police” and stand in front of a crowd of retreating students, facing cops in riot gear and holding up their middle finger. These kids were most likely the same ones who acted up in elementary school and caused the whole class to be kept in for recess. However, a lot of people just want to be with their peers to celebrate and have a good time, be it the World Series or a Super Bowl win, or even St. Patrick’s Day.
In the end, this years “riot” turned out to be a reasonably well-contained affair. Police and law enforcement were supervising, but there were minimal altercations. Students were raucous but not violent. We still made the news, though, this time for not rioting.
Did the new restrictions succeed in containing the trouble? Considering the dramatic difference between last year’s World Series celebration and this year’s Super Bowl, some would say yes. Others might not attribute the outcome to the policy changes at all, arguing that students this year simply celebrated more responsibly, with the restrictions playing no part in the decreased mayhem (admittedly, people may just say this to try and discredit the inconvenient restrictions).
Students will most likely continue to celebrate publicly when a major event or holiday like this happens. Whether or not it turns into an infamous “UMass Riot” is contingent on countless factors on the part of students, administration, and law enforcement. A lot of the public still wants to see UMass as out of control Zoomass Slamherst; the fact that the media considers our lack of rioting newsworthy proves that. Time will tell if that reputation is warranted or outdated and maybe come March we’ll know.