COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ)—It’s the night of the big rivalry. As the Terps take on Duke, it’s not just a win or a loss worrying some at the University of Maryland, College Park. It’s the possibility of a post-game riot.
Derek Valcourt explains what the school is doing to try to prevent problems after the game lets out.
Over the last few years that post-game energy has led to riots in the streets. This year, they’re trying to offer students alternatives.
Year after year, riots break out in the streets of College Park after the Terps-Duke game.
Last year, those riots got so bad that video of Prince George’s County Police apparently beating a student made national headlines.
In response, the school toughened punishments for students caught rioting. But this year it’s the student government leading the effort to bring back some civility.
“We’re trying things, and in the past we haven’t tried anything,” said Steve Glickman, SGA president.
Glickman helped organize what they’re calling “Beat Duke Week,” designed to help students channel their energy in a positive way.
Even the coach is asking fans for better behavior.
“You don’t want to take away the enjoyment, but obviously there’s some things that can’t happen,” said Coach Gary Williams. “Nobody’s in favor of any damage or anything like that. Hopefully our students have heard enough about it in the last year, and they’ll do a good job.”
One of the big changes this year, the school and the student government are going to be hosting a big post-game bonfire on the campus. They figure rather than have students start dumpster fires after the game, they might as well have a fire they can control.
“We are creating a place for them to come out and celebrate, so we are hoping everyone comes down and joins us,” Glickman.
The campus police chief says they’re ready— just in case riots do break out.
“Our goal tonight is zero arrests, zero injuries, a big win over Duke, a good time had by all,” said David Mitchell, campus police.
But some students are still not so sure a bonfire can curtail the rioting.
“We’ll see. I think it’s better than what they did last time to avoid any riots,” Joe Pietrezak, senior.
Students are also planning a big pep rally before the game to teach Maryland fans a few more sportsmanlike cheers. The pep rally starts at 5:45 p.m. The bonfire starts as soon as the game is over.
The Terps game against Duke begins Wednesday at 9 p.m.