U riot prevention is good; will it work?

Following last weekend’s homecoming riot in Mankato, Minn., near Minnesota State University, other universities are trying to prevent similar situations from occurring at their schools.

Having experienced two years of hockey riots, the University already knows the destructive nature of such events, and how difficult it is to contain them. Unfortunately, our experience doesn’t lend much help to other schools because we are still learning how to prevent riots, which might be an impossible feat.

Who can explain or understand the mob riot mentality of revelers who smash storefront windows and burn cars? Some blame it on alcohol; the surge of adrenaline following a victory game, feeding off rowdy behavior; or the presence of the media or law enforcement, which can stir up emotions even more. If anything, it is likely a combination of all these things, which still doesn’t make total sense, because such factors are present in other situations that do not lead to riotous behavior.

Similar conditions are usually missing in riots related to political events, such as the Rodney King riot. Though riots related to social injustice cannot be condoned, we can at least understand what catalyzes them.

Perhaps causing nonpolitical riots is just the nature of Americans who enjoy a chance to be violent. But what, then, explains the behavior of fans of England and Turkey’s soccer teams, which turned deadly before a 2000 UEFA Cup match? Their conduct is so uncontrollable that England and Turkey are trying to stop England’s fans from even attending Saturday’s Euro 2004 qualifying decider in Istanbul. We hope universities will not have to take such drastic measures to ensure safety for students and fans.

University police have made plans to try to prevent riotous behavior following Friday night’s football game against Michigan, which is expected to draw 60,000 people. The University also took positive action this week in trying to thwart destructive revelry. The ad in today’s Daily, and the Minnesota Student Association and Graduate and Professional Student Assembly’s e-mail, remind students of the consequences for bad behavior.

Some say recent attention to riots might incite otherwise stagnant activity. Let’s hope preventative measures are effective. If not, the University should take adequate but fair action against students who commit egregious acts.