Saturday, February 23, 2008

Alcohol to Blame for Violent Attacks at UMass Amherst, Officials Say

A string of violent acts has taken the attention of the community of the University of Massachusetts Amherst over the last three weeks, calling into question the safety and integrity of the flagship state university.

First, an off-campus house party resulted in a vicious beating with lacrosse sticks, baseball bats, and bottles. As a result, three UMass lacrosse players have been charged and several others have been suspended from the team.

Shortly after that incident, two students are facing murder charges in unrelated altercations. The first involved a racial incident, and the other from an attempted rape case.

This is not the first time the safety at UMass Amherst has been called into question. Just two years ago, ABC’s 20/20 reported that UMass was the most dangerous campus in the nation. With 25,000 students, 19,000 of which are undergrads, some students say that violence is bound to happen, but it doesn’t mean the school is dangerous.

"It's a huge school and kind of like its own city," said freshman Nicholas Leoutsakos. "I'm not surprised if there are jackasses who want to hurt other people."

However, university spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said administrators are taking this issue seriously and looking at what could be causing the violent acts. He also pointed out that the university is generally safe and that alcohol-related fights occur at every large university.

Amherst Police have been beefing up efforts to reduce off campus rowdiness since 2006, when UMass began working with the town to combat the problem. UMass has been working to change its image from a party school with riots to a leading research university.

Blaguszewski said a lot of the problems stem from binge drinking at off-campus parties. Binge drinking is defined as having at least four drinks in one sitting three times over two weeks.

1 comment:

UMass Journalism Department said...

Jon,

Overall, nice job but there are spots you could have tightened, right?

Steve