Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass officials prepare to manage Super Bowl reaction

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(Katherine Mayo/ Collegian)

(Katherine Mayo/ Collegian)

(Katherine Mayo/ Collegian)

By Will Katcher, Collegian Staff

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With the New England Patriots gearing up to play the Philadelphia Eagles in their eighth Super Bowl in the last 17 seasons, University of Massachusetts officials are once again preparing to manage students’ reaction to the game’s result.

This will be the 15th world championship appearance for a Boston-area team since 2001, and over that time the University has learned to be well prepared for either the celebration or disappointment that follows those games.

“It’s great that the Patriots are in the Super Bowl, it’s a great opportunity for students to get together,” said University spokesperson Ed Blaguszewski. “We just want to make sure that happens responsibly.”

The central approach for the University is to limit students traveling to areas they do not live in. According to an email sent to the school community this past week, students will not be able to sign into a residence area outside of the area they live in after noon on Sunday. This will include those not enrolled at UMass.

In years past, many students have gathered outside the Southwest residential area following games regardless of the result. The goal of the school has recently been to try to avoid this pattern, hence the sign-in policy. Access to the area may be limited by police during and after the game. “We don’t want Southwest to become a magnet for people to hang out who don’t live there,” said Blaguszewski.

Rachel Grant, a junior political science major, said that she believes the restrictions are a good idea.

“There were so many people there [last year] just from Southwest that if there had been any more, it really would have gotten out of hand,” she said.

Grant lived in Southwest and was there for the “riots,” as she called them, that took place after last year’s Super Bowl. She added that police blocking off the Southwest residential area was helpful in managing the situation.

However, not all students agree that the measures will help to manage the student reaction. Freshman biochemistry and molecular biology major Adam Joress believes they are unnecessary, since people will find their way outside and into the scene anyway.

“You can’t put an entire school on lockdown,” he said.

Blaguszewski also said that the University hopes to avoid a large police presence, though officers will be available if needed. Ideally, he said, they will not be in riot gear and will be out talking to students and keeping an eye on the situation.

Even with the seriousness of preparing for the game and being able to keep students safe, UMass is getting well into the spirit. This week, UMass Dining banned Philadelphia brand cream cheese—from the home of the Patriots’ opponents—in all dining halls. Instead, another brand will take its place.

“That’s the attitude, to rally around your team,” Blaguszewski said.

While there have consistently been public celebrations for major sports and world events, from the Red Sox World Series and Patriots Super Bowl wins to the 2011 death of Osama Bin Laden, UMass police and officials have had a fair amount of experience with large, unruly crowds.

“Every year, every game and situation [are] different. The ability of the police to respond in whatever way is needed but in as minimal a presence as required is what we hope,” Blaguszewski said.

Will Katcher can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @will_katcher.

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