Students celebrate Super Bowl victory in unprecedented manner

Super Bowl Sunday was celebrated in what has now become a traditional fashion at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, where students convene in the South West residential area to celebrate or “riot”, depending on whether or not the local favorite wins.

There was something a lot different about this post-game celebration though – new policies, new measures of crowd control and new student attitudes toward law enforcement.

Between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. students from all over campus rushed to the South West courtyard to gather, chant and converse about the miraculous victory the Patriots had just achieved. Local news outlets and student media were present on the scene and on social media.

From most reports and first hand accounts students were gathered near the Berkshire Dining Commons, cheering and chanting things like “U.S.A”, the UMass fight song and “Go Patriots!”

All of which led to very few disciplinary actions being taken by the UMass Police Department. As it stands, there seems to have been less than a handful of arrests. As UMass’ own student journalists reported the overall atmosphere of the gathering was peacefully carried out and when law enforcement asked students to leave, they complied.

Which for UMass seems unprecedented considering the past several years of post-game celebrations/”riots”, including the  2012 Patriots vs. Giants Super Bowl,  the 2013 The Red Sox vs. The Cardinals World Series and the non-sports related 2014 Blarney Blowout. The latter of which prompted University officials to seek the services of former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, who last fall  produced a detailed 65 page assessment of how the University can better handle situations of massive student gatherings.

In the report titled “A Safer Community through Partnership,” Davis suggested a variety of changes that would enable UMPD to more effectively and efficiently curb potential riots. He suggested that UMPD should, ”

  1.  “Monitor information such as size and location of crowds on social media sites in preparation for large-scale events to ensure appropriate planning, prevention and deployment of resources.”
  2. “Increase offerings of alcohol-free activities during high-risk times such as during the weeks leading up to large-scale events.”
  3.  “Conduct a full review and amendment to the Visitor Policy to include detailed enforcement protocols.”

It appears that the University and UMPD took the advice of Davis seriously, implementing the aforementioned policies, which resulted in an overall peaceful and respectful gathering of students and law enforcement.

While on the ground reporting some students experienced a safer community through partnership, in which students and law enforcement conversed, joked and even shared a hug.

Now, just 24 hours later and the conversation has shifted, but it’ll be interesting to see how the outcome of last night’s peaceful gathering affects future events and policies.

I’d love to hear your opinion about the 2015 UMass post-Super Bowl celebration. Also, feel free to share comments, pictures and videos from the event.

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