With history of riots, UMass taking steps to keep students calm after World Series
AMHERST — When the deciding game of the World Series is played later this week, the area outside the Southwest dormitories at the University of Massachusetts will be transformed into a place with activities and free food for students.
Organized by the Student Government Association and the office of Student Affairs and Campus Life, the programming comes as a way to ensure that student celebrations — or their disappointment — over the outcome of the games between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals come in a way that is not destructive to property or violent toward other people.
UMass spokesman Edward Blaguszewski said this is an additional step taken on top of the security provided by UMass police, the notifications sent out by officials and the disciplinary process through the student code of conduct.
Student groups are putting together activities that will be attractive to students, he said. “They’ve taken hold of this concept and run with it,” Blaguszewski sad.
Games, inflatables and free food will be available beginning at 10 p.m. on both Wednesday and Thursday, when the deciding games could be played.
Residential halls across campus will also have events and the games will be shown on television in all dining commons.
UMass administrators are confident, following earlier World Series and Super Bowl events, that the campus will remain reasonably calm.
“We’ve really come a long way in terms of managing these events,” Blaguszewski said. “We feel we’re in a much better place than we were years ago.”
In 2011, following the Super Bowl in which the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots, 13 students were arrested in the Southwest area during a riot that police spent 90 minutes clearing.
Another minor incident occurred in May 2011, when more than 2,000 students celebrated the killing of Osama bin Laden with a rally lasting more than an hour that included a bonfire. No arrests were made.
In 2006, following a UMass football loss in a championship game, around 2,000 students surged into the Southwest plaza, with police spending three hours bringing the revelers under control while being hit with beer cans, water bottles and flattened trash cans. Building windows were broken, some looting took place and some fires were set. More than a dozen students were arrested.
Three years earlier, when the Red Sox lost to the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series, police dispersed students from Southwest but still some were intent on causing destruction, tearing down signs and setting fires.
On Monday afternoon, Enku Gelaye, vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life, sent an email to all students notifying them of the activities and inviting them to participate either at Southwest or in the dining commons.
“It promises to be an exciting week of baseball and I want to thank the Student Government Association and the University Programming Council for their tireless work in helping to plan these activities,” Gelaye wrote. “They epitomize excellent representation of the student body, and their leadership has established a positive tone and set of expectations for our community as we enjoy the games with enthusiasm.”
Those who choose not to be at Southwest or in another dorm are advised to represent the campus well, and Gelaye suggested they visit the UMass Amherst Responsible Fan website, which provides information about acceptable fan behavior.