Posted at 9:50 AM on April 27, 2009
by Ken Paulman
As you've no doubt heard already, there was a bit of a fracas over at the U of M this weekend, coinciding with the annual Spring Jam Block Party concert.
The Minnesota Daily is on top of the story, but beyond the details of the news, the comment thread is pretty fascinating.
Some readers are blaming the MN Daily for publishing a story that there wasn't going to be a party patrol over the weekend. Others say the catalyst was the last-minute cancellation of Spring Jam headliner Talib Kweli.
This commenter assures us that we're all just overreacting:
... to avoid a HUGE misconception, I wouldn't call this a riot as much as a large get-together that was slightly out of hand. People were not hurting each other or raiding houses. There was a strong communal understanding of respect, however, there was some bottle smashing and fire starting.
Other commenters are debating over whether Dinkytown is a "ghetto," and whether people who live there have a right to be upset over their property being damaged by rampaging drunks, or if they should just accept that as an inevitable risk of living near a university.
Another insight: If you don't want your car vandalized, don't park it in an area where a riot is going to happen later:
The worst thing that happened was a few cars got wrecked up a bit, only because some morons decided it would be a good idea to park their car in the middle of a multi house block party on what is annually a crazy weekend. I hate to say it but if anything they're the dumb ones.
Granted, this isn't the first time a bunch of college kids got out of control and flipped over a car or two (actually, according to the Daily story, the rioters attempted to flip over a car, but didn't succeed).
Anyone remember anything similar from their college days? Or are the Kids These Days simply out of control?
I'm going to come off as rather cantankerous for someone who hasn't even reached the quarter-century mark yet, but I have no tolerance for riots on college campuses (or anywhere, for that matter). I seem to recall there were massive riots 6 years ago when the Gopher men's hockey team won its second straight title. I was openly disgusted with the rioters' behavior and at one point proposed that riot police should be equipped with real bullets. I probably crossed a line (and in light of future events, I realize that wouldn't be such a good idea), but my fellow students were horrified that I would deny these kids their apparent god-given right to destroy property and waste campus/police resources. Ken spotlighted a commenter who called people who parked their cars in Dinkytown "morons", but the truly moronic behavior here is exhibited by those who don't realize that there is a fine line between having fun and wreaking havoc. I have no sympathy for any of the rioters in this case.
I was disappointed when I remembered that Bob was still out; I thought it was hilarious and surreal that it was seemingly he, of all people, who quoted a Beastie Boys lyric in NewsCut.
I lived in Dinkytown for a few years in college, and I knew then that leaving my car near the main streets over a weekend was a bad idea. I didn't fear riots, but there were enough people moving around doing stupid things to Other People's Stuff.
Yeah, college students can be idiots. Dog bites man.
The Daily ran "No party patrol for Spring Jam" as the front page headline right before the weekend.
What messages are we sending to our drunken students with preconceived notions of destruction equating to independence?
I mean, there was literally a bonfire in the middle of the street, but the destruction crossed the line. When the cops showed up, all my friends could say were "f**k the police, man." I love a college bonfire as much as the next guy, but maybe the cops had a point. I mean, we aren't subject to a draft and got the president we wanted. College students these days really don't have much to whine about, but we still want to be as cool as the students from the 60's and 70's.
It was a mix of things, but the Daily needs to be more responsible ("NOPARTYPATROL!!!" was the word of the night), and the administration should throw the book at the students who were actively destroying property to set an example. If you're going to destroy a car, you'd better have a good cause.
I'd like to hear from some "older" alums who have recollections of "Carnie"s gone by... My understanding is the "Spring Jam Block Party" is the modern day "Carnie". Anyone have memories?
College students these days really don't have much to whine about, but we still want to be as cool as the students from the 60's and 70's.
You ought to track down how much tuition was in those days, then adjust it for inflation to 2009 dollars. Then stay away from my car ... ;)
Actually, I don't remember anything like what they showed on TV and I went to college in Madison Wisconsin back when the drinking age was 18.
Cars turned over, fires, and all of that -- I never saw it, and Mad Town was a party campus for sure.
I have no sympathy or understanding for the rioters in this case. What happend? Crowd mentality gone bad? What are they rioting about?
Why not put that riotous energy toward some useful purpose? That's what I think.
I went to the U. in the early-mid 80's when the drinking age was 19. Police "party patrols" didn't even exist. There were various demonstrations on campus but no riots. I don't think it ever occurred to anyone to turn over cars and build fires in the streets, for any reason let alone because they were having parties... and there were plenty of parties.
These young people do seem to think that they are entitled to riot for some reason judging by some comments. It's kinda funny to see some of these white suburban middle/upper middle class kids confront MPLS cops, these kids have no idea who they're messing with, especially now that the police have been militarized way beyond anything we saw back in the 80s.
I don't get it.
I don't think that kids these days are simply out of control. Some are, but the perception that this is just how kids are is fueled by the fact that it seems that the only news about college aged youth that ever gets covered is when they do something wild and violent.
For example, at the very same time that 500 students decided to bring chaos to dinkytown, across the river in St Paul 700 youth were gathered peacefully on the state capitol lawn to bring awareness to the plight of abducted child soldiers in east Africa. (Youth around the globe were doing the same thing in 100 cities.)
The Minnesota Daily also covered that: http://www.mndaily.com/2009/04/26/hundreds-protest-ugandan-rebel-army
All of the major news outlets (and many of the minor ones) in the Twin Cities were informed of this event. And although a couple of TV news stations shot a (very) small amount of footage, most did no interviews, got no further information from organizers, and ultimately aired nothing.
So, does the problem lie completely with the kids? Or do we share a large part of the blame considering that that behavior is what we expect of them and the only type of activity we seem willing to respond to?
Since when does destruction = fun?
I went to the U of M and never saw, heard of, or participated in anything like this. There were loud parties, intoxication, the occasional fight, obscene language, public urination, some lewd public behavior, and even police hauling off people who didn't know when it was time to walk away.
Making an ass of yourself seems to go along with heavy drinking. Destroying someone elses property is a different matter entirely. Throw the brats out of school.
I'm not old enough to start a sentence, "Kids these days..." but it does seem to me that there are an abundance of 20-somethings that believe that selfishness is next to godliness. It's the 80's all over again, except this time there are so many more options for students to make themselves truly useful to society, instead of pissing on other peoples' rights (and property). GROW UP.
I was a student at West Virginia University from '83-87. The big wild party event each year was in Sunnyside (read: student ghetto) after the Pitt game. It went overboard into a riot '86 when we beat Penn State for the first time in 30 years. I had to walk through the area on the way back to my dorm. Walk through being the operative word. I and several other members of the WVU Marching Band left our uniforms on for the trek. Those students were setting cars on fire. (the party goers, not the band :)
Michigan State University in '99 (?) had so-called "riots" two years running, once after losing the NCAA basketball tourney, and the other the next year after winning. That constituted overturning city police cars and setting them on fire.
As far as "don't be stupid and leave your car parked where you live..." If it was around some major sports event, I would at least know that my neighbors were going to go insane and act like idiots. But just for some party? Expecting safety in one's neighborhood is sane; you destroying my car isn't and shouldn't be excused as such.
An Analysis of Issues Related to Celebratory Riots at Higher Educations Institutions
This is really amusing, looking at riots throughout the 19th century. Harvard's first was in 1766, over the bad food.
This paper cites the riots here in 2003.
//I don't think that kids these days are simply out of control. Some are, but the perception that this is just how kids are is fueled by the fact that it seems that the only news about college aged youth that ever gets covered is when they do something wild and violent.
Please, college sports, research accolades and discoveries, peaceful demonstrations, and "moving days", etc. are routinely covered by the media. The only time riots are covered... is when they happen. Sure the media media ignore most political protests at the Capital and elsewhere, but that doesn't cause riots on campus.
//So, does the problem lie completely with the kids? Or do we share a large part of the blame considering that that behavior is what we expect of them and the only type of activity we seem willing to respond to?
These are not "kids", they are adults, and they ARE responsible for their behavior, especially if they're rioting for fun, so don't try to blame this behavior on someone else. It's silly to suggest that students are rioting because someone "expectets " them to, but even if such a bizarre expectation existed, they are still responsible for their behavior and may suffer the consequences.
A while back Mr. Collins sparked a little conversation here with a post about parenting. My complaint about the current generation of parents it that they have delayed adulthood, extending childhood into the mid-twenties for their kids. One characteristic of childhood is diminished responsibility for choices and behavior. Maybe a failure to accept responsibility for personal behavior is one of the catalysts for these riots?
The little babies needed their diapers changed. So lets make sure that happens, IN JAIL.