College riots overlook student effort

The trend of rioting on college campuses only serves to make students look immature and unruly.

Connor Nikolic

Thursday night’s Frozen Four semifinal game ended with an unforgettable buzzer-beater goal to sink our oldest hockey rivals, the University of North Dakota. Dinkytown went nuts after the game, as fans took to the streets and started a ruckus. The students rioted again after the Gophers’ loss to Union College on Saturday, as fans decided to make fools of themselves for the second time in three days.

Although many of my fellow students went to Dinkytown to people-watch Saturday, I chose to stay away. University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler sent students an email beforehand, warning that even bystanders of potential rioting Saturday would be breaking the Student Conduct Code. That wasn’t a chance I wanted to take.

So when I saw the news reports on the Dinkytown riots Sunday morning, my first reaction was laughter. Many students and Gophers fans were willing to take paintballs or other nonlethal projectiles, risk their standing with the University and face jail time. Was it worth it just to display their pride in the school’s hockey team?

The University is not the only school that has been on the news recently for hosting riots. The University of Arizona, the University of Kentucky and the University of Connecticut all had similarly large riots during the NCAA tournaments a few weeks ago. Iowa State University canceled its yearly VEISHEA festivities last week because students were already out of hand Tuesday night, and the event has a history of arrests and injuries. Rioting is popular, but it’s a trend that University students should not continue. University students notoriously rioted in 2009 during Spring Jam weekend, leading to 12 arrests. After the events of last weekend, should law enforcement expect a riot when any event gets rowdy?

People may blame the police in this type of situation. They may feel that students are somehow victims of law enforcement in this situation and that students and fans are only partially at fault. I stand by the police in this particular incident, as they did everything that they could in their efforts to break up unruly rioters and take away the fans who had only destruction and chaos in mind. Some bystanders may have received scars and bruises from tear gas and rubber bullets, but they made the choice to be at the scene of the chaos.

Despite a nail-biter victory or a heartbreaking loss, neither game justified a riot. Inequality, government inaction or war could be appropriate reasons for such behavior. However, there was no logic to participating in the Dinkytown riot, other than to show misguided pride in school athletics. I enjoyed rooting for the Gophers to the bitter end, but what I saw over the weekend — running through the streets and taking selfies with riot police — was not what I had in mind.

While our school has a history of rioting, this behavior can’t continue to be the expectation when our school sees a national championship. University students and Gophers fans are better than that. We have worked our butts off to earn spots in one of the most respected schools in the Midwest, and we should not throw away our efforts for one night of partying. All that our rioting accomplished was to take attention away from an excellent Gophers hockey season and shift the public’s eye to the decisions of a few reckless fans.