‘Blarney Blowout’ major point in SGA meeting

By Brian Bevilacqua

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian
Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

This week’s Student Government Association meeting discussed changes and concern regarding Blarney Blowout, the ensuing police response and SGA elections.

Several SGA officials expressed fears over the student response to “Blarney Blowout.” Specifically, the concern was whether the police reaction to Blarney Blowout was considered police brutality before any evidence of it surfaced.

An attendant at Blarney Blowout described the police response as excessive during opening announcements. He relayed the frustrations of many students while describing a scene where many people leaving the Townehouse areas were pepper-sprayed or arrested despite their efforts to avoid conflict, and called on SGA to respond to what some perceived as aggression in response to unruly behavior.

Sïonan Barrett, speaker of the senate, promised to address the press and student body about what she also considered a problematic police reaction to Blarney Blowout. Although she echoed concerns over jumping to conclusions about brutality, she sympathized with the student complains and called for action.

After the meeting, SGA Senator Charlotte Kelly expressed outrage at the situation.

“Obviously, all the people who attended Blarney and participated in illegal activity should be condemned for their behavior,” Kelly said. “Underage drinking, violence (and) sexually assaults are all unacceptable on all accounts. That being said, the manner in which the police handled the masses of students, in my opinion, was completely inappropriate. I heard many horror stories of students trying to get to their homes or cars, and being assaulted by police officers either physically or with mace. Some of these were students who were not even participating in Blarney.”

Kelly went on to critique the authorities’ response to Blarney Blowout.

“The fact that the police felt that their response to Blarneys was justified is absolutely astonishing,” she said. “Ultimately, here at UMass, we have a larger issue of accountability on the part of the Umass police force, Amherst police, and school administration over issues like Blarney.”

Three students who intern at a law office on Triangle St. suggested changes to the Student Code of Conduct. Currently, if a student has a pending criminal case, only an attorney may be present in a conduct hearing with the school and the attorney cannot participate in the hearing. They also suggested a statute of limitations on charges against students, claiming both of these changes are based off of rights granted in the U.S. Constitution and should be approved.

Elysia Eastty, a senior and former director of the Residence Hall Association, was removed from her position for a room violation she was unaware of and unable to appeal.  She asked the SGA to consider working to change the rules surrounding her removal. Eastty also described her removal from office as an “injustice” and “un-American.”

The SGA also appointed Ross Kellogg and Jay Jordan to vacant Senate seats, and Lauren Coakley was appointed to the Diversity and Student Engagement Committee.

The Alpine Ski Team received $3,916 from the SGA finance committee to cover their costs for national championships. $3,000 was allocated to the UMass Student Alumni Association for covering a small part of the senior’s commencement ball.

Elections for SGA president are ongoing until March 11 on Campus Pulse.

Brian Bevilacqua can be reached at [email protected].