By: Ebony Munday – Junior, Journalism
College students often feel the need to express their emotions publicly, whether it be a prideful celebration for winning a national championship or speaking out on behalf of a social justice cause. However, what begins as a harmless celebration can transform into a complete uproar when large numbers of people become involved, causing riots. I associate the term “riot” with people speaking out or fighting against certain events that have negatively impacted the community, civil rights or their personal lives.
However, the situations that took place on the University of Dayton and Ohio State’s campuses pertaining to students acting in celebration were classified as “disturbances” and rioting, respectively, and police intervention was needed to disperse the growing chaos.
On Jan. 12, a riot broke out amongst Ohio State students after the Buckeyes won their first ever college football playoff championship and members of the local SWAT team had to intervene to break up the massive crowd with pepper spray and tear gas, according to businessinsider.com. Thousands of people were running out of nearby bars and campus buildings shouting and chanting. Arrests were made in order to clear the blocked streets and ensure public safety despite some students’ persistence to stick around and party.
The same situation occurred at UD back in 2013 in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Eleven cars were destroyed, including a police cruiser, and countless beer bottles were strewn all over Kiefaber Street. However, only a few arrests were made, none including UD students. Henry Neal, a senior at UD, stated, “It’s 4 a.m and it started with the throwing of a single beer can at a police cruiser. After that everyone just joined the mayhem. What started off as excitement turned ugly fast. Most people involved in the destruction weren’t even students.”
This incident labeled UD the top ranked St. Patrick’s Day party school in the nation from 2013. It’s disappointing to me that our student body is seen as destructive and wild because of how the media portrays the incident versus student experience of the riot on campus.
If students had been rallying for a different cause, like social justice, would police feel as if there was a threat to the community? I don’t think these destructive behaviors are appropriate, celebration or not, but it’s important to consider that the riots began with cheerfulness that got out of hand due to massive crowds. One can expect orderly conduct to diminish when there is partying taking place.
A well-known case from Ferguson, Missouri, that made national news pertains to the death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black male, shot by a white police officer, Darren Wilson. A grand jury decided not to indict the officer in the shooting, infuriating people from across the country. Some believed the killing was part of a trend of police brutality against unarmed young black men. Protests lasted for weeks but ended in riots. Police were harassed, cars were burned in the streets and looting took place as well.
Can this be viewed as a fight for justice or wanton destruction like the UD and OSU riots?
I feel that for all of these cases, rioting is not a beneficial way to go about any circumstance, whether positive or negative.
Celebration of a school achievement should not result in the destruction of the property we the students own. We are entering the work force soon, so we must conduct ourselves in a positive, professional manner. This doesn’t exclude having fun, but our parents and fellow students have contributed funds to provide us with a quality student neighborhood, and it should be treated as such.
“Personally, I think peaceful protest are most effective when desiring civil justice, but as for the riots that have taken place on student campuses, we are just trying to express our excitement when celebrating even though I feel the behavior could have been conducted in a better way” said Tia Clifford, a senior at UD.
Regarding Ferguson, I don’t think the riots served a positive end. I feel the only thing they achieved is destroying parts of their community, a place people called home that will now have to be reconstructed.
I agree with Clifford that peaceful protesting makes a difference without the destruction of public property because voices can be heard seriously.
In the end, progress can never be achieved when fighting violence with violence.