WVU football fan violence
by Rachel Dove-Baldwin
Heartland News Service
Some West Virginia University students — supposedly young scholars pursuing higher learning — go berserk when their team wins a football game. This infantile behavior raises doubt that they’re mature enough to attend a university, or whether their parents should shell out thousands of dollars for their education.
On the night of Oct. 6, 29 street fires were set in Morgantown and crowds as large as 1,000 threw bottles, rocks and other objects at police. Some officers were hurt. Rioters attempted to overturn cars. About 15 were arrested.
Not all of the WVU student body engages in this mayhem — and many troublemakers aren’t students, just liquored-up football fans from around the region. Regardless, it’s shameful.
Morgantown Mayor Jim Manilla says he may propose a $20 “student impact fee” on each of WVU’s 30,000 enrollees, which would raise $1.2 million for the city to hire extra police and firefighters to cope with the juvenile chaos. The mayor admitted that charging all students would be unfair, when “it’s a small percentage” who wreck the town.
The university’s Student Government Association repeatedly has tried to dissuade students from lighting street fires after WVU football games, but the attempt has been futile.
Ken Gray, WVU student affairs vice president, lamented the “unfortunate” and “unacceptable” conduct. He said university officials will scan videotapes to identify offenders, who will be disciplined — possibly expelled.
Expelling students who turn violent in victory mobs would be a grim result, but perhaps it’s the only way to break the sordid pattern at Morgantown.
Meanwhile, WVU officials should strive to deliver a message that a university is a place for serious advanced learning — not a place where football becomes so dominant that it causes students to behave like animals.
— Distributed by The Associated Press
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