The good ol’ days

There’s nothing like a bit of historical perspective to throw cold water on your indignation over the behavior of modern Americans.

In yesterday’s thread on the weekend riot near the U of M, reader Elizabeth T. introduced us to a paper by Jeffrey M. Van Slyke entitled – wait for it – An Analysis of Issues Related to Celebratory Riots at Higher Education Institutions.

The paper focuses mostly on modern incidents, but in the introduction, Van Slyke notes that campus rioting is hardly a new phenomenon:

  • • Harvard University experienced the first recorded student uprising in 1766, when students protested bad food.
  • • In 1842, there was a confrontation between the students of Harvard and three hundred townspeople in which daggers, pokers, and clubs were used.
  • • From 1800-1836, students at the College of New Jersey (present day Princeton University) had six major rebellions including a riot which lasted several days and involved guns and bricks.
  • • The worst of these mass riots (in New Haven) occurred when the citizens of New Haven believed that students from the Yale University Medical School were exhuming bodies from a local cemetery located near the Yale campus, and were using them as cadavers.
  • • During the early 1900s … Problems associated with the abuse of alcohol, student rebellions, and the national mania associated with intercollegiate athletic events, primarily the game of football, became more prevalent.

And the rest, as they say, is history…

  • Paul

    While the paper Elizabeth T. posted did discuss “riots” throughout history, it’s concludes is that contemporary “celebratory” riots are a recent phenomena, and that they have been on the increase over last 20 years. The historical riots were usually reactions or responses to something, not merely spontaneous party behavior. In other words, there’s still plenty of room for indignation about modern behavior.

  • Joanna

    I notice that these are described as almost always being the acts of drunken crowds of young white men. My question is why so few arrests were made when there was such a large police presence and so many participants. Didn’t police make massive arrests at the RNC of people who were NOT rioting? If this had been a crowd of people labeled “anarchists” I bet the jails would still be full.