The Upstate Life
The Upstate Life

Wednesday, February 16, 2005
A Terp's Two Cents

By now, I'm sure most of you are all well aware that not only am I a huge of Maryland basketball, but am also an alumnus of the university as well. I don't know if others were waiting for my reaction on the post-game celebration of sorts that took place after one of the best games this season when we swept Duke for the first time in ten years, but I think now would be a good time to direct how I feel about this past Saturday's "riot."

The Upstate Life began his four year tenure at the school back in the fall of '99. This was where one could get into the business school by having a minimal GPA of 2.8. Admission standards have increased dramatically since then as the University has made the initiative to ascend upon the ranks of being one of the top public colleges in the east coast. Sure, it's no UVA or Chapel Hill as of yet, but TUL honestly feels like he would have a much harder time being admitted into College Park if he were 18 again in the 2K5. (Then again, I was denied admission to SUNY Binghamton but admitted to RPI. Someone please explain that to me.) Which raises the question, "Aren't these students supposed to be more intelligent than those of yesteryear? And if they are, why are they moronically lighting fires in the streets and getting arrested?"

Now, the so-called riots began my freshman year, but it wasn't a riot mind you, but rather a spontaneous celebration of defeating Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in a huge upset in February of 2000. The students, including myself, were overwhelmed with excitement that our team defeated one of the top squads in the nation and needed some sort of outlet to express this incredible win. At the time, it was a monumental victory as not only did we break the Devils impressive 46-game winning streak at Cameron, but it was a huge step forward for Gary Williams and his program. It was the night the rivalry between these two schools truly began. Students poured out of their high-rise dorms and assembled on McKeldin Mall, creating an impromptu rally with cheers of "Let's Go Maryland" and "F*ck Duke" among others. The mass assembly of undergrads marched their way towards Fraternity Row where a bonfire was somehow crafted between the time we won the game and when we arrived to the open field across from Route 1. The goalpost from Byrd Stadium was hoisted atop the flames, mattresses and couches were torched, but not at any time was there a hint of violence or police activity. There were no injuries. It was merely the student body reacting to a huge win and celebrating as our school accomplished a feat that tremendously raised the bar for Terrapin basketball and would be a precursor to the school's first Final Four appearance a year later.

Flash forward to last week and what we are seeing is just tiring already. Sure, students were complaining about how the police were overly aggressive and that such force wasn't necessary, but who is honestly to blame here? The police doing their respective job and trying to let traffic flow on Route 1 and hinder destruction, or the university not providing students an alternative way to express their huge school spirit and celebrate another momentous win against Duke? National media outlets such as the Sun and WaPo negatively portrayed College Park and its riots once more, which despite contradicting reports from the students that will only be read in the campus' publication, The Diamondback, is what people will ultimately hear. As a graduate, people at work were asking not about the result of the emotional game, but of what happened in College Park afterwards. Quite simply, the riots, much like Uggs, are simply played out. The city is getting incredibly frustrated, the administration is exercising its no-tolerance policy, and overall it is simply hurting the reputation of the university and its image as seen by others.

This is also a big problem as these riots are considered almost an attraction to outsiders, and that's not a good thing. It is important to note that half of those arrested on Saturday night didn't even have ties to the school, but were simply coming from out of town to participate in the "riots." This was also evident during the 2002 National Championship as a lot of the criminal activity, such as the looting of a nearby bicycle store, was done by individuals that were not students, but rather hoodlums from neighboring areas. Then again, College Park is right in the heart of PG County, which really isn't the most ideal location to begin with anyway.

In summary, this problem poses quite the challenge as students want to celebrate their team's important victories, but this isn't Duke you see. No one wants to go back to their dorm on a Saturday night to study after they win a big game. And oh yeah, Go Terps!

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