The Penn State Riots
America s college campuses are once again aflame. But, in the 1990 s, the riots are not fueled by politics, as they were in the 1960s, but by beer, liquor and drugs. University of Arizona, University of Maryland and Temple University have all recently experienced these unfortunate riots on their campuses, but it is truly at home with us, the students of the Pennsylvania State University.
The riots began in 1998 during The Arts Festival that caused more damage than ever. Students lit piles of furniture on fire, dropped beer kegs from high balconies and ripped down every street lamp on East Beaver Avenue. After a year off in 1999, a milder sequel riot returned at the 2000 Arts Festival. Then, last month, a post-basketball-loss encouraged police to deliver pepper spray on the crowd as they were showered with glass bottles from above.
Storeowners have suffered due to the late-night activities on East Beaver Avenue. Police protection now consists of protecting themselves while battling the drunken mobs. Alumni are disappointed with their alma mater, and some residents fear that the quality of life in their town is being dishonored.
The riots have created a demoralizing trend that has effected and disrupted not only the community that surrounds Happy Valley but also the students.
Penn State students are feeling the heat no matter which way you view this appalling situation. Whether they were the ones throwing the beer bottles or just standing on the sidewalks, students are finding themselves affected by each event as the riots continue to arise. Penn State students reputations are no longer based on their exceptional scholarship, but rather for their ridiculous, outrageous riots.
President Grahm Spanier stated, From my perspective as president, the downtown riots have been very damaging to Penn State's reputation and the confidence that citizens, elected officials, parents, and alumni have in the University.
College and university officals responses have been predictable. After the riots, State College Police Chief Tom King declared, This situation is another example of the problem associated with alcohol abuse. Without alcohol, this situation would never have occurred. Thus, nationwide, colleges and universities have stepped up their efforts toward alcohol awareness programs, alcohol-free dorms and substance abuse programs. So what is the real cause?
Such efforts are creditable but miss the root causes of these riots and, therefore, will have a minor effect on defeating them. But discovering the root causes will raise some uncomfortable conclusions indicating that there are other sources to blame other than just the beer-swilling students.