A portion of this article was originally placed in the print issue of Flyer News under the title: “University Officials Respond To St. Paddy’s Day Celebration.” This online edition adds to the in-depth account to the University’s response, what occurred and contains video and images (one graphic) to highlight the events of the holiday.
“St. Patrick’s Day, around here, seems to have some magical meaning. Which is the celebration of complete intoxication. I’m not going to say St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe at some point I will, but today it’s too wrong.”
In large part due to the incidents of last weekend, University President Eric Spina will continue to refer to St. Patrick’s Day as March 17. In this response to a student’s question at a public SGA meeting March 18, Spina encapsulated his emotions on the events of the day, as well as, his attitude moving forward.
His avoidance of even naming the centuries old Irish holiday stems from the behavior of UD’s student body, specifically on Lowes Street, Saturday afternoon.
In Other ✈ news…
Four University students were arrested for a variety of misdemeanor alcohol offenses, public safety officers were hit in the face with full cans of beer, large rocks and other projectiles — causing them to withdraw and call for approximately 50 officers (some in riot gear) to control the crowd, cars were damaged and at least one student was transported to the hospital, according to University officials.
“We had a student. Unconscious,” Christine Schramm, University dean of students, said at the SGA meeting.
“We couldn’t get to her. It took eight officers, because the officers had to protect each other so that they could go attend to your student. We had to watch that for four hours.”
Students forced officers in riot gear to retreat. They stood on top of roofs. They jumped on top of parked and moving cars. And the calamity, or jubilance, did not disperse until 6:30 p.m.
A quiet and desolate Lowes Street gave relief to University officials but also sparked a rush of emotions.
At the meeting, Spina began listing off the names of 12 cities. Each, as of 9 o’clock on March 18 saw footage of the fracas on UD’s campus.
“All have in their mind that the University of Dayton is about what happened on March 17… that’s really crappy news,” he said.
“As we go to recruit students from those places, as we go to recruit faculty and staff, as we spread the good news that is the University of Dayton, that’s what we have to overcome: what folks saw yesterday.”
What quite a few are wondering, from higher-ups to freshmen is, why did it reach the level that it did? What sparked this? While there is no clear and definitive answer, there are numerous factors that impacted the outcome.
The Commitment To Just Talking About Community
As officers headed to an unconscious girl, they told a sea of students that they were on their way to assist someone in need. These students stood their ground, scoffed and said they didn’t care, according to Schramm.
Countless students, whether they attended UD or not, were seen throwing beer cans or other objects like, a broken flip phone, a rock or whatever they deemed necessary to fling. What was not apparent were fellow students intervening on their actions.
“What happened to our bystander intervention?,” Schramm said. “What happened to our Green Dot? What happened to what we know — what kind of be together and community — I didn’t see it…What happened?”
Projectiles were thrown when the streets were open and continued when drivers could only put a toe to the pedal. As students plopped themselves on top of cars — sitting, standing or jumping — they were met with cheers, a beer or the back of iPhones. There was no student mediation, and if there was it wasn’t widespread enough.
“Where do students begin to take responsibility for themselves even in their irresponsibility?,” Schramm said.
Dusty Chairs And Uneaten Food
“We didn’t get any calls yesterday for help. Not one,” Bill Fischer, vice president of student development, said at the meeting. “Do something. Call public safety … Some of this is in your control. You have to work with us. We have to work with you. This is your university.”
SGA held a Q&A Feb. 14 for students to speak with public safety police chief Rodney Chatman and Spina. If readers see Flyer News’s story for the talk, the first thing they’ll notice is the picture of the two speakers and empty seats.
Chatman has constantly professed that his door is always open and proactively speaks on campus. There have been numerous events like these where Schramm, Fischer, Chatman, or Spina and others have been available for questions and conversation. Yet, what countless University officials — and the students, too — will tell you is that the attendance is measly.
“No one will come,” Schramm said in response to opening up the conversation about St. Patrick’s Day to the student body.
Poking The Passive Aggressive Bear
Public safety officers are strolling through Lowes Street. The students are drinking and listening to music blaring from inside the house. There’s a girl scout cashing in on thin mints. Crossing the street isn’t a hassle. It’s the early afternoon.
Officers are taking pictures with students. Posing. Smiling. Having a quick laugh or a discussion about the aspects of the job.
One officer is standing, observing and gets a full Natural Light can to his heel. The population of the crowd has picked up a bit, but nothing too dangerous. The sidewalks were still quite walkable. He turns around to see the student — not very conspicuously — walking away toward a house with his head down.
The officer stares for a bit, but then continues to walk and mingle.
Incidents like this set the tone for those who partook in the ransacking of the neighborhood and a firm step over the line. That student and the others around him witnessed and understood that the officers were going to let them have fun. And some people’s idea of fun can be very different from others.
After that incident, Lowes gradually grew and with the growth came more destructive behavior before the street was packed and rules were no more. Which in turn, caused the removal of officers.
No arrests were made before officers were asked to leave, according to Chatman. But more importantly no arrests were made during the gradual growth of students.
Indeed as Chatman said, when there was plethora of green, “the crowd quickly swelled to a point where those committing criminal acts benefited from the anonymity they had as an unidentifiable member of the crowd.”
Nevertheless, when inappropriate actions were acted out before the untamed activity, they were met with no response virtually fueling the fire inside students with no regard for others.
“They have orange hair. It’s like their holiday today.”
Chatman has been at UD for two years. Schramm, for around 20. Both had no idea what the Ginger Run was.
“I found out about the Ginger Run this year,” Chatman said.
For those who have not seen, the Ginger Run or A Running Of The Gingers is when UD students with red hair run through the most crowded street that day in extra celebration of the Irish holiday. The participants even made shirts this year.
With a combined total of roughly 22 St. Patrick Day celebrations at UD under their belts, the two were ignorant of an event that has been around for several years.
UD has a history of ruckuses on March 17 and the lack of knowledge around the “traditional” festivities places University officials at a disadvantage. Hence, when Chatman and Schramm spoke to the students who participated before they took off and urged them to walk, the students agreed they would do so, but then went on to cheerfully sprint.
There are other factors, including the potential misuse of neighborhood fellows and the schedule change of the 2019 spring break that extends over St. Patrick’s Day that affected this outcome.
But, moving forward, the University is searching for ways to “build bridges where gaps appear,” as SGA president Jamie Vieson said in a letter to all students. And while that bridge is under construction, UD will avoid the color green.
“I think you now have an answer about where that spring break is going to fall year after year after year,” Spina said. “We’re going to avoid that date like a plague. I don’t know what it is about Ohio, Dayton, and this university. I don’t know of other places that have that kind of ‘tradition.’ But it’s going to be something we’re going to move away from.”
Photos Taken by Christian Cubacub/Director of Digital Media