University of Massachusetts students gathered rowdily in front of the concourse entrance of Berkshire Dining Commons in Southwest late last night, just minutes after the conclusion of Super Bowl XLVI which saw the New England Patriots fall, 21-17, to the New York Giants.
At approximately 9:55 p.m., dozens of students streamed out of Southwest dormitories in front of the Berkshire courtyard, and within minutes, the area was nearly two-thirds filled with students also standing on stairs and ramps close to John Quincy Adams Tower and Washington Tower.
Although there were no reports of damage to property or reports of serious injuries, 14 arrests were made by police officers for charges of failing to disperse and/or disorderly conduct, according to University Spokesman Ed Blaguszewski.
Blaguszewski added that 13 of the 14 arrests made were University students.
According to Blaguszewski, reports from police forces estimated 1,500 students clustered together, many celebrating, chanting or yelling about the game’s result.
“This is pretty typical UMass behavior. It happened last year and every other year with sporting events,” said Rob Orlando, a sophomore student in the Isenberg School of Management. “It’s not a surprise.”
University, local and state police officers came equipped in riot gear and issued its first dispersal order over its P.A. system at 10:08 p.m. after the crowd emerged.
When the crowd did not entirely respond to the dispersal order, police moved in at 10:14 p.m. and shot smoke bombs and pepper balls. No tear gas was used, according to Blaguszewski. Several officers ushered the crowd along while riding horseback on Clydesdales.
“There are a lot of [drunken] kids who are obviously getting out of hand,” said sophomore William McCarthy. “If [the police] weren’t here in such force, [students] would probably be getting out of hand and breaking some stuff. Obviously they are here with the horses, and they are just looking to get kids out of here and get them into the dorms.
“I think the horses are a good call,” he continued. “A person is not really going to be scared of an officer, but [they] are going to be scared of a gigantic Clydesdale coming down and trampling them.”
Dozens of students pulled out cell phones and cameras to record the crowd’s activity. Several students hopped onto others’ on piggyback to gain a better view as the crowd drew more participants.
“I love rioting,” said sophomore communication major Sarah Ellis, before the police’s first dispersal order. “This is my second riot; I was here for the Osama [bin Laden] riot. This is nothing compared to that one.”
“It’s pretty crazy. It’s not as bad as the one last year,” said sophomore Ryan Rendano. “I was rooting for the Patriots. I think it’s wild. I’m not the type to shoot of fireworks or anything, but it’s entertaining.”
As in past gatherings of a similar nature, members of the crowd tossed toilet paper into the air and laced the courtyard’s small trees with it. Others tossed open cans of beer, and a few students lit off small fireworks to the left of Berkshire’s entrance.
“You know, I have no idea why [people use toilet paper in riots],” said Evan Baltzell, an undeclared student. “I think it’s funny. I believe people use it because it’s light and sticks to things. It’s like students are trying to decorate the campus, not vandalize it.”
A male student in a green sweatshirt hoisted himself onto the rooftop of the Berkshire Dining Commons as the crowd of students below cheered him on. A member of the crowd failed in an attempt to pelt him with a nearly full beer can. The male student led a chant of “[expletive deleted] the Giants!” from his rooftop perch. As soon as he landed on the ground, officers placed him in handcuffs.
“I’m very overwhelmed,” said freshman English major Kim Cabrera, as she leaned onto the banister of the ramp attached to the entrance near John Adams Tower. “I’ve never experienced anything like this before. It’s pretty exciting though.”
Police officers were not alone in their anticipation of last night’s post-Super Bowl gathering as security and vigilance in residential halls were also tightened.
“Every cluster had four people on-duty tonight, and RAs were doing rounds every hour,” said Cassie Brown, a Moore dormitory resident assistant and junior kinesiology major.
Brown also said that by the end of the game, RAs within each cluster were instructed to post up in the dormitory lobbies and remind students to disperse when the police told them.
Alyssa Creamer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dan Glaun, Katie Landeck and Steffi Porter contributed to this report.