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Riot Mentality

By Rachel Levi; Features Editor
On February 9, 2017

Riot Mentality 

Rachel Levi

Features Editor

rlevi@plymouth.edu 

In light of all of the protest our nation has seen in recent years, we millennials are no strangers to the so called “mob mentality.” There are many reasons why mobs might occur, spanning social and political issues such as race, gender, and income. Most often, these “mobs” gather with the intent of peaceful protests. While being one of the peoples most powerful tools to draw attention to issues they feel have been ignored, protesting can occasionally take a turn for the worst and become violent.

Campus and town police prepared for the possibility of the Patriots winning the Superbowl by taking precautions to avoid such gatherings, which have been known to occur at universities following such monumental victories. These gatherings, which can be further fueled by alcohol, lower inhibitions and may influence actions that are out of character for the typical college student.

Columbia University’s Tory Higgins comments in a Huffington post article concerning The Psychology of a Rioter stating “crowd psychology shows that when you see other people acting in a certain way, you’re more likely to do it. It intensifies whatever is normative in the group... But violence isn’t the necessary outcome of every collective action.” The same article notes that gathering, specifically rioting, allows powerless people feel powerful, and that young adults are more likely to give into this reciprocal response after years of living under the authority of adults.

The memory of the 2014 Keene State Pumpkin Fest riot validates, through association, the claims that mob mentality leads to an exaggeration of the so-called “normative” of the group. A CNN article written the morning after the incidence of the riot captures Keene State College President Anne Huot stating "Despite the concerted efforts of organizers, city officials, police, and Keene State College, there continued to be disruptive behavior at parties in multiple locations around the city, injuries, and property damage."

While this instance, which made world news, was a rare occurrence, it still highlights the issue concerning how easily riots can begin, and how destructive they can become. The same CNN article continues explaining the recklessness exerted that night stating “young people shouted expletives at police, started fires in the road, pulled down a street sign and apparently tried to flip over a Subaru.” It was also mentioned that an estimated 140 arrests were made that night.

Sources say gatherings taking place on campus after the Patriots victory Sunday evening were fairly quiet and students were respectful. On the contrary, The University of New Hampshire documented a handful of arrests after the big win. An article in The New Hampshire Digital stated “Though the majority of students celebrated respectfully and responsibly (at UNH,) some were seen throwing bottles and climbing rooftops, flagpoles and trees.” Using footage and photographs from the incident, police continue identifying and arresting those who played a role with the help of the internet.

Riot mentality, while physically damaging, can also cause prolonged damage concerning the reputation of a school, and consequently of your degree. Administrations clearly discourage such occurrences from happening, but it is the responsibility of students and those they invite to campus to refrain from such destructive behavior. Next time a sports team wins a big game, or an exciting event occurs on your campus continue to be mindful that we can celebrate responsibly as we proudly demonstrated Sunday night. 

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