Campus riots raise issue of sexual assault
There's no questioning UConn students and their dedication to school spirit. Upon winning the games both Saturday and Monday, there were huge riots in Fairfield Way. It was considered a time where everyone could celebrate the championships together and scream in each other's faces or spray each other with various types of beer. Understandably, it got out of control but appeared to be widely considered by students to be a good time. However, I do wonder about the safety of students during riots, and how far things will go in the name of school spirit.
The fact of the matter is that Fairfield Way wasn't remotely safe on either of those nights. In addition to tipped over cars and students climbing trees, there were too many people out and about. Crowd control can only go so far-I saw plenty of students, both male and female, nearly get trampled. Others got sucked into some sort of vortex in the center of campus and disappeared in a flurry of waving arms and hoarse shouts of "UCONN! HUSKIES! UCONN! HUSKIES!"
Even upon seeing all of this, I wasn't sure if it was really as bad as it seemed. It was a little unsafe, perhaps, but surely nothing life-threatening. However, this afternoon I heard a student comment on the riot, saying that her roommate was afraid to go out to the center of campus because she feared she would be raped or assaulted in some way. It might sound like an irrational fear, but UConn, unfortunately, has set precedent for these beliefs. For example, when UConn student Carolyn Luby wrote an article that critiqued the newly designed mascot a series of violent and vicious comments were spawned. The emphasis put on sports and traditional masculinity is immense in our society, and female students who choose to question their role on campus is a serious concern.
Another student I spoke to, who chose to remain anonymous, said that she was sexually propositioned by another student at the riot. Among the crowd, I saw several girls being grinded up against-and none of them seemed to know their dance partners. To be honest, this isn't unusual on a college campus, but there was a difference here: the girls looked uncomfortable and annoyed.
It's odd, the way that the university conducts itself when it chooses to celebrate. There's no way of controlling everyone, but it is bizarre-as well as exhaustingly typical-that there is such a leap to destructive, Bacchanalian behavior. There were pleas from everyone from RAs to professors for students to tone it down and think of others, but as always, when sports victories come around, decorum went out the window.
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