WVU beat Texas this weekend. It was incredible. I may have gone temporarily insane in my living room celebrating. My daughter, narrating the action to her grandmother who had called, stopped to say, “Oh, now my dad is waving his hands over his head like a helicopter. Oh, now he has stopped. Oh, no, there he goes again.”
I’m older though. The younger generation celebrated as they often do in Morgantown: they gathered, they screamed, they burned many things, they got teargassed, they got dispersed, they woke up the next morning without a regret in the world. When I use “they,” I obviously mean a few hundred WVU students whose behavior is more amplified than all of their comrades and most wild animals.
All of the usual suspects were very, very angry about this, because the only time that out-of-control and anti-social behavior is allowed in this town is during Mountainfest. Leading the charge this time is the city’s mayor, Jim Manilla, who has decided that the most reasonable way to combat the several hundred students who live in Grant Avenue between Third Street and Summit Hall (the epicenter of the madness according to various on-scene Twitter accounts) is to charge all WVU students $20 per semester for the crime of going to the same school as a few lunatic hoodlums.
Far be it from me to criticize our local political establishment - a group that still reacts to post-game madness as if it is the first time that such an outburst has ever occurred - but maybe making a blatant cashgrab in this particular case isn’t the most useful or productive strategy going forward? Maybe it makes more sense to introduce substantive, common sense solutions for the student partying:
- Continue the policy of expelling students found guilty of burning couches.
- Fine the property owners who rent rooms to those found guilty of burning couches.
- Don’t penalize students who have nothing to do with the mayhem by charging them $20.
The first one is obvious. Students who engage in violent, antisocial behavior should be removed from the institution that brought them to our city. I don’t think the University has any objection to this end of the policy, given that they’re already engaged in the expulsion of ne’er-do-wells.
The second one is unlikely. Punishing landlords for the tenant behavior would bring howls of outrage from the city’s collection of upstanding, well-meaning property owners who’ve never done anything but be loyal to Morga…hahaha, I’m sorry, I couldn’t get through that without entirely losing my mind. Yes, Sunnyside’s slumlords will protest. So what? What have they ever done for that neighborhood in particular or the city at large? If their lives get a little more complicated - if they’re forced to actually, yknow, work - I think they’ll either survive or get out of dodge. That wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
Third is Manilla’s proposal. I can’t begin to describe how utterly useless that extra twenty bucks were student would be, in that it won’t do anything to prevent the problems while simultaneously worsening relations between the city and the student body. Look at the reporting from the front lines Saturday night; look at the Daily Athenaeum’s plea today. The fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of the University’s student body hasn’t done anything wrong. Demanding that they foot the bill for the madness of those that just so happen to attend the same institution? That’s insane.
Of course, my guess is that we’ll simply keep on keeping on, at least until something genuinely awful happens, something like the death of a reveler. At that point, we as a community (and I include students in that) will have to start seriously considering all of the available options to combat this nonsense.