Regents take up student riot policy

University President Robert Bruininks said police are investigating 10 people for on-campus, riotous behavior during the April 12 riot.

by Paul Sand

The Board of Regents raised concerns Thursday about last month’s hockey riot creating harming the University’s state funding.

The meeting was the first time regents have formally discussed the riot that followed the Gophers men’s NCAA hockey championship April 12.

Regent Frank Berman said two consecutive years of riots is unacceptable and the police inquiry – which has yielded more than 21 investigations of students – is “woefully inadequate.”

Berman also said he has spoken with legislators and is concerned the riot could result in decreased state funding.

“That riot did great damage to the University,” he said.

Regent Patricia Simmons echoed Berman’s comments, saying the riots have negatively affected every University community member – particularly financially.

“(Because of the riot) we’ll have a harder go with the Legislature,” she said.

Regents Chairwoman Maureen Reed said regents will fight to change the image of rioting and student alcohol abuse as a way of University life.

Reed said regents are still upset about the riot and are dedicated to ensuring rioting does not happen a third time.

“This board is not angry, this board is furious,” she said.

University President Robert Bruininks updated regents on the number of riot-related arrests and institutional changes since the riot. He said police are investigating 10 people for riotous, on-campus behavior.

Bruininks said the student arrested for allegedly burning a parking booth on Fourth Street Southeast is being expelled.

Hennepin County prosecutors charged first-year University student Jason Niehaus with felony arson April 22.

“Arson on campus has always resulted in separating the University from the student,” he said.

A University committee is drafting an administrative policy covering riotous student behavior. The policy will cover on-campus areas, University-affiliated events and areas near campus such as Dinkytown and Stadium Village.

The policy is not a change to the University’s student conduct code but is an administrative policy. Any violation of the administrative policy is a violation of the student conduct code, officials said.

Bruininks said the policy will give the University “more reach” in dealing with students involved in any future riotous behavior.

In addition to the new policy, the University hired a liaison to address student concerns about living in University neighborhoods, Bruininks said.

Regents said addressing student concerns and involving students in a discussion is the best way to thwart future rioting.

Regent Peter Bell said student leadership – particularly Minnesota Student Association and Graduate and Professional Student Assembly leaders – can work to change the University culture that makes riotous behavior acceptable.

Bell also said he was concerned that alcohol played a central part in the rioting.

Bruininks said University officials had been working with Boynton Health Service to fight alcohol abuse on and off campus. He said officials will monitor alcohol abuse at fraternity and sorority houses near campus and will examine liquor licenses at off-campus bars.

“We must learn from this to make it not happen again,” he said.

Paul Sand covers Board of Regents and administration. He welcomes comments at ps[email protected]