HAGERSTOWN – University of Maryland students can quell the problem of rowdy post-game celebrations at College Park through peer pressure and without tougher new regulations, Student Government Association president Andrew Rose told the University of Maryland System Board of Regents on Friday.
Rose pointed to Thursday’s football loss to Virginia Tech when students wore black T-shirts to signal unity and sportsmanship as an example of successful student leadership.
Although not officially organized through the Student Government Association, the Byrd Blackout 2005 program spread by word of mouth and e-mail, Rose said. The university’s athletic department provided black T-shirts for students to wear at the game.
“It shows we can mobilize students,” he said. “Peer leadership is so integral to providing alternatives to post-game celebrations.” The regents are considering toughening the system-wide student conduct policy. Impetus for the revision came from rioting in College Park that has often followed big wins or big losses. The most recent outbreak was in January, when the celebration following the Duke-Maryland game shut down the main road in College Park as fans filled the streets.
“My goal is absolutely no riots at all this year,” Rose told the regents.
Board chairman David Nevins agreed and said, “Voluntary compliance is far better than policies.”
The regents have not yet rewritten the policy, something Rose said he doesn’t want to happen.
“We prefer the policy to stay as it is,” Rose said. However, if the policy is changed, “we want to make sure students are protected … and the policy change is done with students in mind.”
Rose noted that the university administration has tried numerous times to provide alternatives for student celebrations, but none has worked.
“The one thing they haven’t tried is students. … It has to be spontaneous and student-led,” he said. “Students can convince others to do something” like celebrate peacefully after a victory.
The current policy, as posted on the regents’ Web site, states that any student convicted of rioting must be expelled. The regents are considering altering that language to include dismissal of students who are caught rioting but not actually convicted in court.
Rose invited the regents to visit with students at College Park before acting on the revisions, and he said he wants them to be able to talk with “regular students,” not just student leaders.
James C. Rosapepe, regent from Prince George’s County where the College Park campus is located, said he would like to visit students in November. A student forum has tentatively been set for Nov. 16. Rose said the Byrd Blackout program would be extended to the basketball season this year and the plan is to have students wear black to one football game and one basketball game per season.