Editorial: Pitt should prove itself with orderly celebrations

By Pitt News Staff

You’ve probably seen the ads around campus: The inside of the Petersen Events Center is… You’ve probably seen the ads around campus: The inside of the Petersen Events Center is shown in full NCAA glory, but in front of the shot are two figures with their arms raised in celebration — silhouettes with the words ‘suspended’ and ‘on probation’ across their chests. The message is clear and unambiguous, but in case you missed the point, the text in the ad ends with the words ‘celebrate responsibly.’ The subtext: ‘Or you’ll get burned.’

February’s Super Bowl riots seem to have sent a shockwave through the Pitt community, and now, with the potential for another major celebration coming up as Pitt’s basketball teams advance through Tournament play, the University is taking the job of controlling the chaos seriously.

Pitt police chief Tim Delaney said that there will be more police presence should the Panthers make it into the final levels of the Tournament. Dean of Students Kathy Humphrey detailed a plan to put a large television outside the William Pitt Union so students would be able to watch the game together — and also so that officials can monitor students celebrations before the end of the game even arrives.

All of this is a marked change from February, which apparently caught both police and University officials by surprise. Since then, the University has made it clear exactly what kinds of punishments students could face for acting out in celebration, one aspect of Pitt’s response that was especially surprising the last time around.

It’s good that the University and the police are taking pre-emptive measures to educate students and make sure that the same sort of riots and misbehavior don’t occur again, especially considering the fact that no such concern for educating students about their actions existed before the Super Bowl riots of last month.

And although some of the University’s precautions may seem a bit overzealous, we have to admit that we probably wouldn’t trust students to behave appropriately, given past evidence.

What it really comes down to is that Pitt’s student body has a bit of a problem: Some people are undoubtedly going to think of the Super Bowl riots as a standard that has to be lived up to, the same as February’s riot was viewed as one to top the Super Bowl riot of 2006. Other students — not to mention University officials — see it as a black spot on Pitt’s reputation that we should be working to repair.

Having an orderly and — dare we say — civilized celebration would go a long way toward mending some of the wounds from February’s riots, but it might also seem like a step backward from the fiery, chaotic celebrations of eight weeks ago — at least to the kind of person who enjoys lighting couches and Dumpsters on fire in the street.

But the fact is that this sort of celebration is really nothing but damaging, both to property and to the University’s image, as well as the image of any student who might be arrested.

Of course, this is all based on the assumption that the Panthers will win Thursday evening, something they hopefully will do. But win or lose at any of the few games left, we students should keep in mind that the University and the police are taking these celebrations much more seriously this time, and that perhaps we should do the same.