In the immediate aftermath of last weekend’s Blarney Blowout at UMass, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said some students had “brought shame” on the university. Dozens of people, including many students, were arrested and four police officers received minor injuries when pre-St. Patrick’s Day celebrations got out of control in several areas around Amherst.
But as the week went on, UMass sounded less and less confident in its handling of the event. Late Thursday, the university announced it was hiring former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis to review how the university and the town handled the crowds, at this riot and at past disturbances. The announcement also said the chancellor will consult experts who study crowd behavior.
There’s a lot of research on events like the Blarney Blowout, which sociologists and educators call “celebratory riots.” Cynthia Buettner at Ohio State University comments on these kinds of student-led riots, and then we hear from UConn’s police chief, Barbara O’Connor. A few years ago she held the same job at UMass.