Phi Beta Cons

WM Vandalism Pales Next to UMass Violence

Last weekend, spray-painted graffiti, some reading “Board of Dictators” and others obscene, proliferated on the William and Mary campus. The target of this protest was, according to local press, the college’s Board of Visitors, because it had recently declined to renew the contract of President Gene Nichol, who then resigned.
Mere child’s play, when compared to the scene at UMass-Amherst. During the last three weeks alone, a wild off-campus house party turned into a soused, violent melee. Athletes allegedly assailed other partiers with lacrosse sticks, baseball bats, and bottles. And two students face attempted murder charges in separate dormitory incidents that include an alleged rape and a racially charged stabbing.
“We need to shift away from looking at each individual incident, and toward looking at this as a cultural problem,” said Marianne Winters, director of the campus women’s center. You think? “There’s this anticipation, almost an expectation, on campus,” she added, “that violence is a possibility.”

Sounds like it’s pretty much already out of hand, and all the more so in light of comments by Amherst Police Chief Charles L. Scherpa, who noted that the spate of violence is part of a longstanding campus culture of alcohol abuse and raucousness. “Every weekend, we could make hundreds of arrests” for disorderly conduct and vandalism, he stated.

Mayhem on campuses, from the more traditionally staid William and Mary to the playing fields of UMass, seems to be intensifying. Our society had better get to work at inculcating in youth a true tolerance of differing views and respect for public property – not to mention for the life and limb of others.

Candace de Russy is a nationally recognized expert on education and cultural issues.

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