Several riots have raged through the streets of student towns
since the beginning of fall semester.
Three riots have occurred at Colorado universities since late
August, including two at CSU on Aug. 21 and 22 and one on Oct. 30
at University of Colorado-Boulder.
CU freshman Geoff Ross recalls the riot on the Oct. 30.
“When I walked down the street, there were about 1,500 kids at
this block party,” Ross said. “When the police arrived to break the
party up, that’s when the rioting started. There was no intention
to start the riot, it just kind of happened.”
How a riot starts can vary from instance to instance, but riots
do have similarities. Ernie Chavez, chair of the psychology
department, said rioters have a definite psychological profile.
“Riots are a factor of depersonalization, a kind of pack
mentality,” Chavez said. “The more able a person is to be
anonymous, and people feel they are in a large crowd during a riot,
the more a person is likely to do something out of order.”
Chavez also said in the case of the riot in Boulder, the
participants were in Halloween costumes, which may have heightened
their sense of anonymity.
Although participants may feel their actions have no
consequences, the negative results of riots can be astronomical,
causing thousands of dollars of damage and injuries to police and
“So far, we have $29,000 of reported damage,” said Julie Brooks,
public information officer for the Boulder Police Department. “Our
estimates from that night hit about $44,000, so we believe we still
have some people who have not reported the damage to their property
Along with damage done to property, other lasting effects from
the riots include 18 arrests, 11 of which were CU students, and
suspensions for those involved.
“We hope there will be arrests made in the future connected to
the riot,” Brooks said. “We have asked the public for their
assistance in apprehending some of those who were involved in the
more destructive aspects of the riot.”
At CSU, seven arrests were made in connection to the riots in
August, said Anne Hudgens, executive director of Campus Life.
“Along with the arrests made in connection to the riots, nine
students were suspended under the Colorado Mandatory Suspension
Law,” Hudgens said. “The law states that any student convicted of
riotous behavior that attends a Colorado school must be suspended
from school for at least 12 months. During this time period, they
cannot attend any school in Colorado.”
Those who were arrested at the riots in Fort Collins were
generally not the individuals who incited the riot, but those who
were on the outside looking in, said Hudgens.
“Sadly, the students who were arrested at our riots were not the
ones who started the whole thing,” Hudgens said. “Police are rarely
able to get to those in the middle of the riot, those who started
it, because it is just to dangerous for the police to go in to get
In Boulder, the case was no different for police, said Lt. Tim
McGraw at the CU Police Department.
“There are no bystanders at a riot. If you are there, even on
the outside looking in, you are a part of the riot,” McGraw said.
“When there is a public safety announcement by the police, you have
a legal obligation to leave, otherwise, you will be considered part
of the riot and will be arrested for it.”
The riots in both Boulder and Fort Collins garnered negative
publicity and national attention for both Colorado schools. Some
students, like Coit Stevenson, a freshman zoology major at CSU,
feels the effects of riots at both CU and CSU are exaggerated.
“It happens at schools across the nation, not just at CU and
CSU. I just think it’s getting blown way out of proportion,”
Stevenson said. “It’s just a few students who get out of control at
a party. It’s not like every one across campus, across the state,
are involved in these riots.”
Steps are being taken at both universities to prevent riots in
the future, with various methods being used to create riot
prevention policy, Hudgens said. Both negative measures, such as
bringing in buses to arrest every single person at a riot and
positive measures are being considered for the future.
“Personally, I feel that positive peer pressure is the best way
to prevent these things from happening,” Hudgens said. “If people,
instead of cheering for those who are lighting things on fire or
tipping cars over, were to say, ‘Let’s not do this, let’s leave,’
the riots would not take place.”