Why Is Every College Party Turning Into A Riot?

At Colorado State University last weekend, the hosts of a block party called 911 for help clearing out hundreds of attendees. Arriving officers were greeted by partygoers shouting, "F--k the police" and throwing beer bottles, according to the student newspaper, The Rocky Mountain Collegian.

The same weekend, police used tear gas to break up a house party at Western Michigan University, as students threw beer bottles and attempted to flip an ice cream truck. A week earlier, University of California, Santa Barbara's, annual Deltopia celebration that attracted 25,000 people turned into a riot that resulted in at least 100 arrests and 44 injuries.

At colleges big and small, during major sports events and local celebrations, students are engaging in violent confrontations with police, often leading to injuries and arrests. What seems like a surge in riot-like student disturbances is propelled, some argue, by the instinct to put everything online -- through Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram and YouTube.

But that theory assumes college parties turning into riots is a new trend.

Iowa State University canceled most of its annual VEISHEA celebration this month after students rioted , flipping cars, tearing down street lights, throwing beer cans without apparent reason. Students also rioted during VEISHEA celebrations in 2004 and in two other years in just over two decades.

Iowa State is not known as a party school, unlike its rival, the University of Iowa.

That leads to another theory. Iowa State lacks a party school reputation and had multiple riots, while the University of Iowa had no riots and maintains a wild identity.

The University of Delaware may be an example of the same small school riot syndrome. Thousands of University of Delaware students gathered in a frenzy on a Monday night in September as the popular YouTube channel "I'm Shmacked" rolled through town filming a college party documentary.

BroBible's Brandon Wenerd reflected afterward about why UDel kids went wild. Social media was part of it, he concluded, but there's something else:

I talked to I’m Shmacked’s founder, Yofray, on the phone this afternoon. He said that big schools know how to stay composed when I’m Shmacked shows up. Small schools like UDel, not so much. They tend to lose their shit. In other words, it’s classic little brother syndrome.

That theory, too, has its limitations. Recent riots also have plagued the University of Arizona, UC Santa Barbara, Penn State and other known party schools.

So if college students are rioting because of social media, then how to explain schools with a history of out-of-control partiers taking over the streets? If it's because the colleges that are not known for being a wild university are just getting excited and taking things too far, then why do riots still take place at flagship party schools?

College students rioting in the streets have become routine during the NCAA basketball and hockey championships. After the University of Minnesota lost the NCAA championship hockey game this month, 19 people were arrested in a riot fueled by intoxicated students and fans.

University of Dayton students rioted several times during the March Madness basketball tournament. The same goes for University of Connecticut, which eventually took home the national title, and where students lighted small fires. Following the University of Kentucky's loss to UConn, students set 19 couches ablaze in the streets of Lexington.

An October 2013 riot at Western Washington University in Bellingham involving about 500 partiers took police 45 minutes to quell.

In the case of most college riots, police say students hurled projectiles at officers. Many cases also include allegations that an aggressive police response fueled further violence.

After at least 70 arrests at a "Blarney Blowout" riot at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst last month, students claimed police were out of control. Footage emerged showing officers spraying pepper spray at what appeared to be unarmed students:

Back at the Colorado State riot, one student, Steven Meyers, said he stood near his car, making no sudden movements, trying to protect his vehicle. Meyers said an officer told him he could not protect his car and slammed the student with his riot shield. His girlfriend said she was knocked down by cops, who told her, "Move, bitch."

The officer who attacked the woman, Sgt. Joel Mann, was given an "alternative duty assignment" after the video went viral.

So is the college riot really the new normal? There doesn't appear to be a clear answer.

"Riot culture has pervaded its way all the way down to normal house crawls," writes Barstool Sports, a blog aimed at college-aged men. "No campus is safe. No ice cream truck is safe. It's total mayhem in our country's colleges."

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