The Red Sox did an amazing thing last night: they won. There’s a lot of talk about how historic the four wins in a row come from behind victory is, but for most people, it’s enough simply that they won, and they beat the Yankees. Close to home, PSU students, and students all over New Hampshire and Massachusettes, expressed their joy over the Sox’s victory in a way that has mature adults™ shaking their heads everywhere.
PSU students and others celebrating the Red Sox win early this morning on Russell Street in Plymouth engaged in riotous behavior that resulted in 15 arrests for disorderly behavior, minor injuries and property damage. According to University Police Chief John Clark, approximately 800 people were dispersed from the area by University Police, Plymouth Police Department and other law enforcement agencies. Bottles were thrown, fires were set and property was damaged, including a section of fence near Boyd Science Center. One person was transported to Speare Memorial Hospital as a result of injuries that occurred during the event. According to Vice President for Student Affairs Dick Hage, student judicial investigations, hearings and possible suspensions will be done as a soon as possible. Both UNH and KSC reported post-game disturbances student disturbances as well.
Messages like this are important in its relationship with the town and, perhaps, with politicians who think the school should have control over its students. But, I’m not sure they send a fully positive message to students and prospective students. After all, University life hangs on events like this, and even good students want to party.
[update]: The following message from University President Donald Wharton went out to all students via email on Friday:
To: All PSU students
From: President Wharton
October 22, 2004
Wednesday evening the Red Sox conducted themselves with class; many PSU students did not.
The behavior of those PSU students who participated in the riot is inexcusable and unacceptable. It will not be tolerated by the University or the community.
Some students have already been suspended and more will be suspended or expelled as further police reports and other evidence comes in.
Imagine for a moment the impact of suspension or expulsion as well as criminal prosecution, on the future of those arrested for criminal acts. What happened Wednesday evening was not simply inappropriate and immature, it was criminal.
In addition, every student who was in a crowd on campus or on Russell Street after the game bears a responsibility for the result. No one was “just having fun” or was “an innocent bystander”. Everyone must take responsibility for the disturbance of the peace that awoke and frightened children and residents, for the cheers that encouraged the law breakers, for providing the blanket of anonymity that bottle throwers and other violators hid behind. Everyone who participated brought shame upon themselves, their families, and the University.
Ultimately all students will have to share the burden caused by the rioters. Some of that will be in the form of direct payments, some in the devalued reputation of their degree, some in a criminal record, and for many it will be the admission of having failed to take the morally responsible action called for.
Plymouth State students deserve better than they have gotten from the rioters. PSU students deserve a campus free of violence, free from mob psychology, free from the kind of blame that will now attach to all students because of the irresponsible actions of some students.
I urge all PSU students to reflect carefully and thoughtfully, and resolve to positively influence each other so that in the future we all can be proud of our university.
Also on Friday, PSU’s Lamson Library posted a bibliography of the Red Sox and the World Series.