Riots and regulations: Super Bowl LII calls for stricter regulations on campus


Several students attempted to climb a pole in the center of the Southwest quad and tried ripping a sign off of it. Other students threw beer cans and chunks of ice at some who tried. (Morgan Hughes/Amherst Wire)

AMHERST — As Super Bowl LII approaches, there is an undeniable current of excitement running through the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus.

After all, if there is one thing that brings UMass students together, it’s the thought of cracking open a cold one with friends and watching Tom Brady do his thing on the big screen.

The excitement is met with anticipation though — anticipation for not only the results of the game, but also from the strict regulations the university has imposed.

Most notably are the residence hall restrictions. All UMass residence halls will have extended security this weekend beginning at noon on Sunday, Feb. 4 and lasting through 8 a.m. on Monday, Feb 5. UMass students are only allowed to sign in up to four UMass students, no outside guests and only if they live in their same residential area.  

Jasmine Perez, a sophomore living in John Adams Hall, voiced her concerns about the strictness of the regulations.

“Although I understand that UMass is trying to prioritize our safety, the students are ultimately just going to find loopholes around any safety regulations they try and implement,” said Perez. “It might be more advantageous for the school to lose the safety regulations as they could be creating more problems in the long scheme of things.”  

Sophia McHugh, another John Adams Hall resident, reaffirmed Perez’s suspicions of student rebellion.

“I understand that UMass doesn’t want any extra people and visitors on campus, but I think the fact that we can’t sign people into our buildings from other living areas on campus is stupid,” said McHugh. “I know people who are just going to sit in the dorms from noon until the game just so they can watch it with their friends.” 

Although the rules may be stricter than some like, UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski says there is reason behind the cause.

“We’ve had years where we’ve had next to nothing happened, and we’ve had years where we’ve had some difficulties after sports events,” said Blaguszewski.

Most notably was the 2012 Super Bowl XLVI, when thousands of students rushed outside the Southwest Residential Area following the Patriots loss. Fights broke out, according to the police on the scene. One student was even seen scaling the side of a building. The riot resulted in 14 arrests.

However, there seems to be hope, according to Blaguszewski.

“In recent years, we’ve done very well. Students have come out, they’ve celebrated, they’ve enjoyed themselves with a very limited amount of incidents, and when asked to disperse, they pretty much go about their business and do that,” said Blaguszewski.

For example, like last year’s celebration.

“We think we’ve put regulations in place that absolutely support fun but also, drawn from experience, limit the risks of a large crowd coming together that don’t live in the area,” he said.

Dining commons are operating at different hours as well. In the Southwest Residential Area, all dining commons will close at 8:30 p.m. Other dining options like Argo Tea and Southwest Express will close early as well.

If a student is hungry, they are encouraged to go to Franklin Dining Commons in Central, or Worcester Dining Commons in Northeast, which will remain open until midnight.

Poles in Southwest have also been removed as a precaution.

“What we’ve observed is that a certain number of people like to be the center of attention, and they like to climb things,” said Blaguszewski. “It’s a danger to people themselves. You climb up there and you fall down, you can really hurt yourself.”

Police are expected to be present on campus, predominantly in Southwest, which has historically been the epicenter of the riots.

“The police are prepared, as all of us are, for different potential eventualities. Our hope and belief is that the students will come out, they’ll celebrate and then it will be time to go home,” said Blaguszewski. “The point is, we want to give students an opportunity to watch the game and enjoy it, and to do it in a safe manner.”

To accomplish this, Super Bowl viewing parties will be occurring on campus. A viewing party for the Puppy Bowl will begin at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 4 in room 314 of the Student Union, followed by the Super Bowl viewing party at 5:30 p.m. in several locations in the Student Union.

This year’s Super Bowl will start at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 4. Despite stricter regulations and a lack of poles to ascend, students and faculty are certain that UMass residents will enjoy watching and hopefully winning the big game.

Email Courtney at [email protected] and Danielle at [email protected], or follow Courtney on Twitter @CourtneyMurtag3 and Danielle @daniellelipiec.

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