Revelers take to Facebook

By Shaé Felicien

With the big game still two days away, Pitt has already seen the rise and fall of several… With the big game still two days away, Pitt has already seen the rise and fall of several Facebook events presenting opposing ideas of how to celebrate a Steelers victory.

Pitt junior James Lomuscio created Pitt Students For Reasonable Super Bowl Celebration just minutes after the Steelers won the AFC Championship almost two weeks ago. His event represents one camp of fans who hope to minimize any destruction and danger following the game.

Other groups with differing opinions have cropped up, starting a dialogue about how wild fans should be when expressing post-game emotion.

“My hope is that this event makes it widely known that those who choose to destroy (like say, a bus shelter, or Hillman Library windows) win no praise from any of us,” Lomuscio said in a Facebook message to all group members earlier this week. “This is a small effort to be sure, but much of what happened in February 2009 was because of an expectation of lawlessness, of chaos and of zero accountability.”

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After witnessing the riots of 2009 and seeing groups of students lighting objects on fire and smashing parking meters, Lomuscio felt the need to create this kind of group.

“I think it’s important that people who may be inclined to riot and destroy things … recognize that there are many students who in no way support what they do,” Lomuscio said.

Lomuscio speculated that “it’s the anonymity in a mob that allows for these sorts of behavior.”

“The same thing happened with the G-20 [Summit],” he said.

So far the Reasonable Super Bowl Celebration group has amassed nearly 1,500 members, yet not all posts on the group’s wall were supportive of the initiative.

“Nice try … but it’s a lost cause bro. Did you really think this was going to work?” Rob Siravo asked in a post on Jan. 27.

Others shared similar sentiments.

“The Riots Will Continue!” Ralph Johnson, a freshman, posted last Tuesday.

“As young students at a large university, I feel as if a large, chaotic celebration is imminent. A lot of kids are going to be engaged in drinking and out of the excitement, it’s definitely not out of line to say people are going to be going crazy,” Johnson predicted.

Other people advocated Dumpster fires on Forbes Avenue, climbing traffic lights and burning couches.

Soon after Lomuscio’s group was created, Ryan Snowden, a former Pitt student who now attends Robert Morris University, created Pittsburgh’s Appropriate Super Bowl Celebration as a response.

The group’s profile picture, which depicted the darkened image of a man raising his hands high in the air while a fire blazed behind him, seems to highlight the ideological differences between the groups.

Yet, students who advocated for rowdy behavior online differed in their actual celebration plans.

Freshman Steve Danielson posted that “There’s probably not even going to be any riots or anything, but people will be drunk and celebrating obnoxiously.”

With the amount of increased attention that the groups received on Facebook, the University even employed the use of groups to spread awareness of the potential consequences of criminal behavior.

Deborah Walker, student conduct officer, made a post on the Reasonable Celebration wall.

“While the University of Pittsburgh and the Division of Student Affairs understand your wanting to celebrate the Steelers victory in the Super bowl, you should be aware of the consequences of being involved with any unlawful, destructive behavior that leads to violations against the Student Code of Conduct,” she warned.

Walker added that University students who are cited by the city or Pitt police will be subject to sanctions that may include fines, damage restitution, disciplinary probation and disciplinary suspension.

A few days after this post was made, Snowden changed the profile picture of his group to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and altered the message of his group to “Please celebrate responsibly” before deleting the group entirely on Wednesday night. Snowden declined further comment.

The event had accumulated 1,300 attendees before its deletion.

Last Tuesday, Student Affairs released the first of its two Celebrate Responsibly YouTube videos, which depict various student leaders on campus encouraging safe celebration and alerting students of what constitutes violations.

“Violations include arson, setting or fueling a fire of any kind, criminal mischief aka property damage, alcohol violations including underage drinking, open containers or public drunkenness and failure to disperse, failure to obey officers’ commands to leave or go to a specific area,” said the student leaders in both videos.

The videos, along with ads in The Pitt News, also notified students that anticipated victory celebrations will be limited to Bigelow Boulevard between the Cathedral and the William Pitt Union and will last for one hour.