Dozens of Students Arrested at UMass Riots, Arrests at UMass during “Blarney Blowout”

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St Patrick’s Day Event Ends in Riots, Arrests at UMass Anya Gruber ’16

Assistant News Editor

On Saturday, March 8, thousands of UMass Amherst students gathered for “Blarney Blowout,” a notorious annual event intended to give students an opportunity to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, which occurs during spring break. However, UMass administration was far from approving.

Last year’s Blarney Blowout resulted in six arrests after the crowd became too rambunctious, prompting the university to station more police personnel around campus this year. Enku Gelaye, Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, sent an email out to the UMass student body on Monday, March 3, with a reminder that Blarney Blowout is not a school-approved event.

“I am writing to remind you that ‘Blarney Blowout’ is not sanctioned by the university,” the email stated, along with a list of possible consequences for participation in the event, including suspension and fines.

Despite the warnings, this year’s Blarney Blowout resulted in even more arrests than last year. According to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, 52 students were arrested; however, reports on the exact number vary.

Blarney Blowout has been reported on by many local and national media outlets, including the popular website Buzzfeed, and Facebook’s news feed had the incident at the top of the trend list.

Police, including officers staffed by UMass and the state of Massachusetts, were forced to use pepper spray to control the crowds, and four officers were injured by glass bottles and beer cans flung by highly inebriated students.

Many UMass students are concerned about how events like Blarney put the university in a very poor light. Said UMass sophomore Rohan Suvarna, “I think Blarney is moronic ... you’ve reached a point in your life where your actions really do have consequences. This isn’t high school anymore.”

An anonymous UMass student said, “I’m glad that I didn’t go … People were throwing full cans into the crowd and one even threw a baseball bat. People can, and did, get seriously hurt.”

For some students, the incident only reinforces the already-established stereotype of UMass. “There's a reason it's called ZooMass,” Smith student Camilla Skalski ’15 wrote after sharing the Buzzfeed article on her Facebook page.

Even events at Smith have been altered to reduce the risk of rioting. For example, this year’s convocation after-party was held in the Campus Center to maximize the number of students in a supervised area.

However, many students doubt that an event at Smith would get so out of control. “Events at Smith versus at UMass can’t really compare. Smith has less than half the number of students at UMass,” said Yamanda Kaychouhi ’16.

The UMass students arrested at Blarney were due in court the morning of Monday, March 10. It remains to be seen what the outcome will be, both in terms of those individual students and how Blarney Blowout might be handled differently going forward.

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