Casualty of Capitalism

Exiled into Wilmington, Delaware by virtue of corporate layoffs. (Note: Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this blog are Copyright 2005, Michael Collins, and cannot be used without permission.)

Location: Wilmington, Delaware, United States

Graduate of University of Maryland School of Law; University of Maryland, College Park (Economics/Political Science).

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Why I Don't Respect Most College Students

After Maryland's win over Duke last week, the students poured into the streets of College Park and some caused extensive property damage. Riot police were on location, a fact announced well before the game, and apparent to those who attended. Nevermind that beating Duke isn't quite as special as it once was, say about four years ago. The students still took the win as their cue to take the celebration to the streets and, inevitably, some losers decided to start breaking stuff. Everyone knows it's going to happen. Even those who are "innocently" celebrating. They're out there partly to watch those who will break stuff do it, because they want to say they were there. I remember being like that myself (but we never beat anyone when I went to Maryland, so I didn't get the chance).

What I do remember is that any time there was an opportunity for gawking, Maryland students were all over it like a wet blanket. When a drunk driver killed two students near campus, he barracaded himself in his College Park home. Unfortunately, he lived right near frat row. When the swat team came in to negotiate with the guy, the spectacle turned into a huge street party. Eventually the police stormed the house and the guy committed suicide. Fun.

Another night I was coming home from the bars and witnessed a fight between to groups of guys. One guy had a bottle smashed over his head, which chopped off one side of his face. Unfortunately, this happened right near a Wawa off campus. Soon, as everyone left the bars to get their late night snacks, it became a huge spectacle. This guy bleeding profusely with half a face. Another party atmosphere. Ridiculous.

So Maryland students riot again, which they have done nearly every time we've beaten Duke in the last five years. The worst was when my sister was a student and some morons burned a bonfire on a residential neighborhood street and caused over $100,000 damage to cable TV wires, knocking out cable to half of College Park. My sister reported that when the fire trucks showed up, the students beat back the firemen by throwing bottles at them in order to protect their raging blaze. That's responsible.

This time the police were ready and showed no mercy. Good. But the whiney students didn't like being told what to do or take responsibility for their actions. When the police busted some heads and tried to disperse the crowds using tear gas, some "innocent by-standers" were injured. Here is a sample from the editorial in the Maryland student paper:

Saturday: University students and bar-crawlers pour into the city’s downtown area in celebration of the Terrapin men’s basketball team’s defeat of the Duke University Blue Devils — a perennial rivalry (at least with this university’s students) that sparked similar celebrations in the past.

Fast forward to Tuesday.

After the pepper spray and tear gas settled, university administrators chose to hurl rhetorical denunciations of the riot at a broad range of students, despite the small number who were arrested for allegedly committing violent acts. Meanwhile, sophomore letters and sciences major Stephen Lippenholz recovered from a pepper ball shot to the face in a county hospital while seven other university students presumably returned to class after spending at least a few hours in police custody.

And so far, that’s all we’ve seen from the university administration: aimless frustration, spinelessness and a crumbling resolve. The student body’s seen nothing more than complaints in The Diamondback, on television and in area newspapers — no tangible interest in the welfare of students who may have been wrongly injured or arrested in the riots. Prince George’s County Police have continued to refuse to release details related to individual arrests that night. They also will not say if they have documentable policy on riot control and the use of pepper ball guns.

The administration should be interested if police know what they’re doing when they fire weapons into a crowd of university students. Right now, we have no idea if they actually do. The university should be interested in what its students actually did that night and if those actions warranted arrest. Right now, we have no proof they did. Instead, the student body has a university administration that’s sitting around a board table, fumbling with what they think is a public relations disaster (and it is) rather than a possible denial of students’ rights.

Conveniently left out of this article is that the "similar celebrations" in the past all resulted in massive property damage. It wasn't just a bunch of kids high-fiving and chanting innocent cheers. Always there were injuries, arrests, and property damage. So the police were prepared this time and took action. And everyone was on notice that they would do so. Yet...

It is the uncaring administration who doesn't care about the "students' rights." It's always about the students' rights. I'm not certain that any mob has the right to pour into the streets and clog up traffic. Or throw things at the police. Or destroy public and private property.

When you participate in a mob situation that has no aim, you can expect disorder and mayhem. It's inevitable. Everyone out there is complicit in a way. The police did their jobs: try to maintain order and prevent property damage. That some "innocent" students were injured is unfortunate but not unforeseeable.

With students, it's always about them and their so-called rights. Me, me, me. College is a four year vacation from reality, my dear students. Just wait until you leave campus and you'll see how lenient your employers, community, and the authorities are when you step out of line. Grow up.


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