Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Sports gatherings bring students together

"UMass students need events where they can come together as a whole and, with sports teams that are subpar (to say the least), the Super Bowl is one of the few opportunities we have."

Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian

Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian

Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian

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There are only three certainties in life: death, taxes and University of Massachusetts riots after major Boston sporting events. Win or lose, if the Patriots are in the Super Bowl, it’s a given that hordes of students will flock to the pavilion outside of Berkshire Dining Commons, ready to climb poles, set off fireworks, burn clothing and cause mayhem. At a large state university with a student body that is anything but tight knit, riots are one of the only school traditions that bring UMass students from all backgrounds  . UMass students need events where they can come together as a whole and, with sports teams that are subpar (to say the least), the Super Bowl is one of the few opportunities we have. On the other hand, these events come at a great cost to students and the University, sparking the debate about whether or not these types of student demonstrations should be allowed on campus.

From all the emails, dormitory restrictions, early dining hall closings and heightened police presence, it is clear that the University’s administration does not see eye to eye with students on this matter (and for good reason). In 2006, students caused over $100,000 in damages after the UMass football team lost the NCAA FCS National Championship game. In 2012, students clashed with riot police and 14 students were arrested after the Patriots fell to the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. Moreover, following the Red Sox’s loss to the Yankees in the 2003 ALCS, students caused $20,000 in damages during a riot where two cars were flipped over. However, after an uneventful post-Super Bowl celebration last year with no arrests, injuries or property damage, it seems that University officials are finally winning the war over student shenanigans.

In the past decade, UMass has been fighting battles on many fronts to crack down on alcohol-fueled, non-University sanctioned events. Blarney Blowout, another time-honored UMass tradition, went the way of the dinosaurs in 2014 after UMass made the news nationally for what Time Magazine described as “drunken chaos.” Whether or not the event got out of hand thanks to out of line students or the extreme tactics used by police trying to contain the event is up for debate. Although Blarney technically still exists, it is not nearly as “great” as it once was. A daytime concert from irrelevant musicians, like Flo Rida and Mike Posner, is a hardly a comparable consolation prize. One thing is for sure, Blarney has been sorely missed by many UMass students.

By no means am I trying to condone aggression toward police or destruction of public or private property. As a taxpayer, I’m not alone when I say that I am less than thrilled when I have to foot the bill for vandalism caused by a handful of drunk hooligans. Nonetheless, there is something to be said for allowing these events to continue on campus and around Amherst. There’s a reason UMass is known as “Zoomass,” a title the majority of students use ironically nowadays. Excessive partying, day drinks at the Townehouses and, most of all, sports riots are all defining characteristics of UMass, and I would consider it nothing short of a travesty for the school’s reputation if these aspects were to disappear from UMass. We need these mischievous activities to spice up the dull atmosphere of Western Massachusetts. Does UMass really want to become a large, boring state school located in the middle of nowhere where fun goes to die? It’s in everyone’s best interest that these events continue.

It’s in everyone’s best interest, specifically the UMass administration, that these events continue on, albeit in perhaps a more toned down manner. There are many reasons that 4,700 students came to UMass as freshmen last year, yet, with a four year graduation rate of 67% and a six year graduation rate of only 76.5 percent, I am drawing the conclusion that a vast number of students are not coming to Amherst for the world-class education. In my opinion, it would seem that 1 in 4 students are here for a good time and not a long time. But, on the other hand, these students bring in valuable revenue to UMass and the town of Amherst. From my experiences, the social atmosphere at UMass is an important feature of Amherst that draws in many Massachusetts students. Without it, UMass Amherst might risk losing a large portion of its student body to other state schools that are more affordable, have a better location and have comparable academic prestige, such as UMass Lowell. UMass isn’t just a school; it’s a community that has sacred, yet few, essential traditions that keep the student body united. Granted, it’s on the student body to make sure the partying doesn’t get out of hand like it did this year, but the students need to walk a fine line to both preserve the school’s unique character while maintaining a safe atmosphere on campus.

Editor’s Note: The last paragraph of this piece was added after an error during the editing process in which the paragraph in question had not been included in the first draft. We regret this error, as it left out a key aspect of the writer’s argument. The headline has also been altered for a more accurate representation of University events and the writer’s argument.

Aidan Byrne is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]


9 Responses to “Sports gatherings bring students together”

  1. Class of 2010 on February 5th, 2018 10:36 am

    The only “travesty for the school’s reputation” here is you. I hope ever one of your future prospective employers googles you and finds this article. When you’re actually looking for a job, the reputation you’ll want for UMass is that of a world-class educational institution, not a cesspool of entitled drunken hooligans. It’s literally in no one’s best interests that these events continue.

  2. Class of 2010 as well! on February 7th, 2018 2:26 am

    I just wanna know what you were doing when we lost to App State in 2006, because you were clearly not hanging out down by Southwest.

  3. Perry on February 5th, 2018 11:09 am

    I am deeply disturbed and saddened by the way this article essentially celebrates rioting as a grand football tradition at Umass. Our nation is currently experiencing great social upheaval with race related riots like those in North Carolina and Ferguson in which the response to very legitimate rioting is to arrest, shoot, and disparage those objecting to inhumane treatment. So what I’m hearing loud and clear from white mainstream media and the public at large is that it’s all a grand old tradition when predominantly white people riot over a silly game, destroying property and setting things on fire because they’re sore losers. But when human beings whose very lives and rights are at stake are compelled to riot, the media’s response and certainly the police’s response are quite different. Please be a more responsible journalist. Your articles reinforce and shape public perception!

  4. SHerlitz on February 5th, 2018 1:34 pm

    No, “Excessive partying, day drinks at the Townehouses and, most of all, sports riots” are not defining characteristics of UMass when it’s only an obnoxious minority that participates each time. You are making the erroneous assumption that your experience is the same as the rest of the student body and alumni. I, as an alumnus, cringe every time someone says “Zoomass”, and I know there are many who feel the same.

  5. Evan A on February 5th, 2018 8:22 pm

    What an embarrassment this article is to the school and alumni. The Daily Collegian was actually once a true collegiate newspaper; one that was respected. What happened?

  6. Ed Cutting on February 6th, 2018 8:24 am

    It started in May of 2001 with the Hobart Riot and then the first Superbowl victory in 2002 — both were largely police-instigated riots similar to Chicago of 1968. And then when the “Dead Sox” proceeded to and then actually won the World Series, it was open warfare for a couple weeks.
    The UMPD went from 35 officers to 63 and the type of officers they hired were very different. They went from being there to serve & protect the students to being there to control the students. And student attitudes toward the police went downhill as well.
    As hard as it may be to believe, back in the ’90’s, they’d often only have 3 officers on duty at night during the week. The level of hostility — on both sides — wasn’t there then.

  7. chris on February 6th, 2018 8:33 am

    well said


  8. Christopher Abel on February 6th, 2018 8:50 am

    “Excessive partying, day drinks at the Townehouses and, most of all, sports riots are all defining characteristics of UMass, and I would consider it nothing short of a travesty for the school’s reputation if these aspects were to disappear from UMass. We need these mischievous activities to spice up the dull atmosphere of Western Massachusetts.”

    Wow. This has to be one of the most ignorant things I’ve ever read.

    Plenty of other schools are able to watch sports (win or lose) without rioting.

    Rioting is not a badge of honor that “defines” Umass, it’s an embarrassment.

    Go somewhere else if Western Mass is so “dull.” There are plenty of students who want to study in a safe environment and enjoy the natural beauty & overall coolness of the Valley who will fill your spot.

    Shame on the Collegian for validating an opinion which supports criminality.

    Try again.

    Chris Abel – Umass Alumni (1994)

  9. Minuteman Alum on February 6th, 2018 7:23 pm

    Solid article. I think the satirical tone of the article was lost on most readers, and I felt that the author made a good case for the purpose these gatherings play on campus, bringing students together, while contrasting the damages these events cause to the University. I’m curious as to where the author “supports criminality” though. If you didn’t 100% agree with everything that was written that’s fine, I know I certainly didn’t, but I believe most of the people commenting are guilty of selective reading. People seem to have read what they wanted to read instead of considering the article as a whole which is unfair to the author.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.

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