AMHERST, Mass. (AP) — A pre-St. Patrick’s Day celebration near the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts spiraled out of control, pitting police in riot gear against thousands of drunken and unruly revelers at the annual ‘‘Blarney Blowout.’’ There were more than 70 arrests and four officers were injured in the clashes that included some students throwing beer bottles, cans and snowballs, officials said. Amherst police said early Sunday that 73 people had been arrested after authorities spent most of the day Saturday attempting to disperse several large gathering around the UMass campus for the party traditionally held the Saturday before spring break. The partying carried through Saturday evening into early Sunday, and Amherst Police Capt. Jennifer Gundersen said in a statement that police were busy with numerous reports of fights, noise and highly intoxicated individuals. Gundersen called the daylong partying ‘‘extremely disturbing and unsafe.’’ ‘‘Perhaps one of the worst scenes we have ever had with drunkenness and unruliness,’’ Gundersen told The Republican in Springfield. ‘‘It is extremely upsetting. It is very dangerous.’’UMass denounced the ‘‘unruly behavior’’ Saturday and spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said students who were arrested will be reviewed under the school’s code of conduct and that sanctions could include suspension or expulsion. Amherst Capt. Christopher Pronovost described the day as ‘‘mayhem’’ to the Daily Hampshire Gazette.‘‘This can’t be in any way, shape or form be characterized as a party,’’ he said. ‘‘This is destruction of property (and) assaultive behavior.’’
LETTER FROM THE CHANCELLOR
From: UMass Chancellor’s Office <email@example.com>
Date: Sunday, March 9, 2014
Subject: A Sad and Difficult Day for Campus and the Town
To the Campus Community:
I was outraged to see the impact of the so-called Blarney Blowout on our
campus and community this weekend. Despite our best efforts over the past
week to inform our students of the consequences of unruly alcohol-fueled
behavior, by midday yesterday there had already been dozens of arrests
and numerous large gatherings broken up. It was a sad and difficult day
for our campus and for the town of Amherst.
I want to make it unequivocally clear that the University of
Massachusetts Amherst condemns the outrageous behavior of those students
who acted out without any regard for public safety and the community in
which they live. They have brought shame on our fine university and run
the risk of devaluing the college degree that all of our students work so
hard to achieve.
We acknowledge the strain that this weekend’s disturbances place on the
town, and first responders in particular. We are also deeply disturbed
that our neighbors in the vicinity of these events were forced to endure
such scenes. There is no excuse for this type of alcohol-fueled behavior,
and I want to assure both the town and the campus that we will take steps
to address this incident.
My administration will redouble its efforts to work with the campus
community and the town to avert future episodes like the one we just
witnessed. We will also take swift action to address any violations of
the Code of Student Conduct, whether on or off campus, resulting from
this weekend’s disturbances. There will be consequences for those found
to be responsible.
No doubt there are difficult conversations that lie ahead concerning
student behavior, alcohol and civility, but I have no doubt that, working
together, we can build the kind of community in which we all want to
Kumble R. Subbaswamy
I guess the Blarney Blowout was a success? Or not? Listen everybody knows we’re pro party here. You got to let college kids be college kids. But having said that if you throw a bottle at a cop or don’t disperse when cops in riot gear are pointing paint guns at you then you are an idiot and deserve to be arrested. Like I have no sympathy for the kid who got smashed with the gun because he should have just turned and walked away. That’s on you.
Regardless I do have a suggestion for Umass on how to handle the Blarney Blowout the next time around. How about instead of sending threatening emails that basically only incite everybody to party harder you work with the students. That’s what I’ve never understood about the Umass administration. They just don’t seem to have brains. There is nothing you can do to stop this event. So rather than having the riot police on speed dial why don’t you try to work out a compromise? Tell people the party ends at 3 or 4pm. Get students to agree to it. Get everybody on the same page. Don’t invade the townhouses at the crack of noon like it’s the Invasion of Normandy. That’s why there were 73 arrests. Because there were 9 million cops in riot gear with a zero tolerance p0licy busting up a party that wasn’t ready to end. I just refuse to believe there can’t be a happy medium. There has to be a way to let this event continue and keep the peace. There has to be. Like put the 4pm deadline on it and then slowly coax people who won’t leave rather than sending in the Swat team. I think they’d be surprised with the results.