West Virginia University’s number of expulsions in 2003 vs. 2005

While doing research for my thesis tonight, I found an article that I’ve been trying to find for a long time.

I remembered when I was in undergrad a freshman’s car was flipped and destroy as part of some celebrations after a big win. However, I couldn’t remember which time. I was in undergrad from 2002-2006, and there were at least three times I can remember fires being set. After West Virginia University’s win at Virginia Tech in 2002, fires were set in Morgantown. In 2003, there were fires set again when WVU beat Virginia Tech at home. And then in 2005 there were fires after a big basketball win. I don’t keep up with sports, so I couldn’t remember what game it was.

So tonight I found the golden article from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review – “West Virginia expels 11 for rowdiness.”

Following the 2003 Virginia Tech win, more than 100 fires were set in Morgantown. More than 40 students were identified as being a part of those fires, but WVU only expelled 7, according to the article.

In 2005, 16 students were arrested or cited by Morgantown police and fire officials for violations such as illegal burning and public intoxication. Telephone poles were scorched and four cars were flipped.

(In the photo below, the person marked “me” is not actually me, but the person who took the photo.)

(Photo credit: http://www.rhythmism.com/forum/showthread.php?t=20828)

Of those 16 students, 11 were expelled. The other five were expected to face suspension or probation.

The article also mentioned that following the 2005 incident Morgantown considered a 17-step plan to deal unruly crowds, such as purchasing a traveling temporary holding facility so officers are not taken off the streets when making arrests.

Last month when city officials met with WVU officials, Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston said the main reason why they have to try to get rid of the large crowds instead of just starting to arrest people is because it takes officers off the street for 1.5 to 2.5 hours for one arrest.

What happened to that 17-step plan? Now I’m wondering what the other 16 steps are. I can’t find anything right now, but I’m going to keep looking. Does anyone remember anything about the plan?

– Leann

Three Thursday morning street fires damage two parked vehicles

For some reason, there were three street fires early Thursday morning in Morgantown.

The Morgantown Fire Marshal released this press release today:

Investigators from the Morgantown Fire and Police Departments returned to the scene of three intentionally set fires that occurred early Thursday morning. Two street fires were reported on Jones Avenue at 1:24 a.m. which contained furniture, garbage, and other unknown debris. The fires damaged two parked vehicles, a Ford Explorer and a Chevrolet Cobalt, each with Pennsylvania registration. Both vehicles sustained several thousand dollars in damages.
A dumpster was set on fire early this morning at approximately 3:30 a.m. in McLane Alley.  Anyone with information about the fires should call the Morgantown Arson Tip-line at 304-225-3586.

McLane Alley and Jones Avenue are both in the Sunnyside area, so I assume the fires were a result of a late night party, but why during the middle of the week? Yes, the weather’s been amazing, but normal people don’t usually set things on fire just because the weather is nice. Well, normal people don’t set things on fire when a college team wins a game either, I guess.

One really disturbing trend with all of this is how proud some students are of this behavior because they seem to feel it proves that West Virginia University is a party school. (As can be seen here.)

Another trend that’s upsetting is seeing students attack anyone who states publicly that the behavior is embarrassing. The Daily Athenaeum’s Managing Editor John Terry wrote a great column explaining why he feels the actions make the university look bad (Irresponsible students in video deserve to be ‘Shmacked’). There are comments telling him to get off his high horse, this isn’t Harvard, anyone who is embarrassed isn’t a true Mountaineer, etc.

The maker of the controversial I’m Shmacked video, Yofray Ray (no relation), even commented on the column.

As a current WVU student, I’m going to have to disagree with his last statement.

– Leann

More than 30 fires were set in Morgantown Saturday night

Students got a little crazy Saturday night in Morgantown. Typically, students party a little too hard and set fires after football or basketball games. But this time, it was just a really warm St. Patrick’s Day.

I ventured downtown around 6 p.m. with some friends to get dinner, and there were already people who were obviously drunk. Someone even threw beads at us, which was confusing because I thought that was more of a Mardi Gra thing.

From our seats at the Brew Pub, we saw several handcuffed people being escorted by police.

That being said, it wasn’t surprising when I saw news stories about what exactly happened.

According to WBOY, the Morgantown Fire Department is investigating 35 street fires.

WBOY attributes a release from the West Virginia Fire Marshal’s office that stated the fires began around 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, and the last one was reported at 5:05 a.m. Sunday. Of the 35 fires being investigated, only 24 were reported to MECCA 911 – the rest were found when responding to other fires.

Here’s a breakdown of the fires as of Monday:

  • 18 dumpster fires
  • 17 street fires
  • 1 vehicle fire
  • a damaged semi-trailer at Ervin’s Towing on Kingwood Street was set on fire, which melted the siding of a nearby building
  • other properties damaged by fires include dumpster enclosures, a fence around a dumpster and a vehicle’s taillights were melted by a nearby fire

For those who weren’t as “lucky” as me to see people act irresponsibly, here’s a photo floating around Facebook right now.

(photo credit: I’m Shmacked Facebook Page)

There’s also been several videos posted on YouTube, as well.

According to The Dominion Post:

The MECCA 911 log showed most of the activity happening after midnight Saturday, with Morgantown firefighters being dispatched to more than 20 rubbish/Dumpster fires, the majority in the Sunnyside area.

The article also states that many students living in Sunnyside were issued tickets by the Morgantown Police Department for not cleaning up after their parties.

Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston told the DP that he did not have a total number of tickets, but more than 40 had been issued in one area of town. Fines are $100 per day until the trash is cleaned up.

If you would like to see some videos of the destruction in action, I used Storify to collect several videos from YouTube – St. Patrick’s Day Destruction in Morgantown.

– Leann

UPDATE (6 p.m.) : Here is a screen shot of WVU Vice President for Student Affairs Ken Gray’s e-mail to the student body regarding the conduct over the weekend:

UPDATE (10:50 p.m.): Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston told Metro News that a total of 33 criminal charges have been filed in connection to arrests made during out-of-control parties. More specifically:

  • 8 counts of obstruction of a public officer
  • 6 counts of disorderly conduct
  • 5 counts of public intoxication
  • 4 counts of possession of a controlled substance
  • 4 counts of driving under the influence
  • 4 counts of underage possession or consumption of alcohol
  • 1 count of destruction of property

Police issued more than 100 criminal citations Saturday night, Metro News reported. More were issued Monday to residents who didn’t pick up the trash leftover from the parties in their yards.

According to an article in the Charleston Gazette:

According to Morgantown city code, burning couches or starting Dumpster fires can constitute a charge of felony fourth-degree arson. Conviction of a fourth-degree offense, or attempted arson, carries one to two years in prison, a fine of as much as $205,000, or both. If the suspect charged is a WVU student, they must go before the Student Conduct Board, where they could be suspended or expelled from the University.