WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Riot or Near-Riot in Newark: Symbolic of the U of D or just an isolated case?

Two Newark stories dominate our news upstate:

The public hearing at Newark High School where concerned parents heard more about the arrest of Scott Bicking, the Mantua, New Jersey man (and co-owner of The Pond Ice arena) accused of inappropriately touching two teenaged boys this summer.

And the rowdy crowd of several thousand University of Delaware students who converged around Main Street and South College Avenue for a party... some motivated by the chance to be seen on camera on the popular YouTube collegiate life series, "I'm Shmacked". By some accounts, the very presence of "I'm Shmacked" cameraman Marcus Hyde hyped the crowd.

Hundreds of drunken students began wandering around the area. Some overturned trash containers. Some began walking on the rooftops of vehicles and scaled rooftops.

It quickly turned into a riot, and accounts differ as to whether the expanding police presence only goaded the crowd.
(Law enforcement agencies involved: University of Delaware Police, Newark Police, New Castle County Police, Delaware State Police)

Founder of "I'm Shmacked", Arya Toufania, told the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: "We've had riots before, nothing that bad before, ever, I've never seen anything that extreme."

Later: "The real instigators of the riot were the police. They could have shut the party down, cornered it off, it just seemed as if they were, like, monitoring the riot."

The University administration is livid. University President Patrick Harker and University Provost Domenico Grasso:

"Last night, a group of disorderly University of Delaware students took to the streets of Newark, causing damage, engaging in high-risk behavior and endangering their well being and others.

Make no mistake -- this behavior will not be tolerated at the University of Delaware."

(Harker must be thinking how much easier life was in his previous gig: Dean of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Of course, the payoff is his paycheck.)

Back to the statement:

"Through the U.D. Police Department, local law enforcement and the University's Office of Student Conduct, the University takes quick and firm action on violations of its Code of Conduct. Students who violate the Code risk sanctions including expulsion. The University is working closely with the Newark Police Department to ensure that those responsible for last night's incident are held accountable.

To be sure, the vast majority of students did not and would not participate in such an embarrassing, dangerous and costly episode. The few who did have cast a negative light on the University as a whole and on the character of our community.

The privilege of being a University of Delaware student brings with it responsibilities and opportunities. You are part of the accomplishments that span our distinguished history and extend around the world. This is not only a matter of institutional reputation, but one of personal integrity. Let's work together to make sure this is an institution where all can feel safe and in which all can take pride."

Let's be clear. Disruptions of this sort have happened on college campuses around the country over the decades. Sometimes the police response only makes things worse.

It's amazing, though, how we've gone from the campus unrest of the 1960's - which centered on real world concerns such as Vietnam and civil rights - to streaking in 1970's (always many more gawking onlookers than participants) - to just plain drunken rowdiness today, fueled by social media.

Does the University of Delaware have a particular problem with a reputation as a party school? Has it become a magnet for students seeking good times?

I would only note this: As the top academic institution of higher learning in Delaware, the U.D. does draw some of the top-performing students from some Delaware high schools. But it also draws many out-of-state students (and enjoys reaping in premium out-of-state tuitions) from Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey... especially New Jersey. (The percentage of out-of-state students at the University of Delaware was 59%, far HIGHER than for most other universities, according to CollegeXpress.com. Out-of-state freshmen? That statistic for the University of Delaware soars to 66.2%, behind only the University of Vermont.)

For many of these students, I suspect the University of Delaware was a default university choice, not necessarily the first choice. In other words, despite some strong academic programs, the U of D doesn't necessarily get the most serious, scholarly students. (Not that serious, scholarly students don't party as well... on occasion.)

I'm just suggesting the U of D has a fair share of students from upper middle-class backgrounds who may have a little too much time on their hands. (I can't help but think: Suppose such a story had occurred in Dover with Delaware State University students...)

An account from The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS:


The tabloid treatment of this story, courtesy of the UK's DAILY MAIL On Line, U.S. edition:


Posted at 9:00am on September 11, 2013 by Allan Loudell

<- Back to all Allan Loudell posts

Comments on this post:

Wed, Sep 11, 2013 9:30am
UD is known for its preference of out-of-state students and their higher tuitions, and also for the low amount of financial aid it offers to Delaware residents. The amount of aid Delaware offered my daughter was laughable. Instead, she chose a highly respected school in New England that gave us an offer in line with our financial situation and her academic acumen.

Wed, Sep 11, 2013 9:36am
Oh, it's absolutely a fall-back school. It was for me. I applied to 4 colleges. Got into all of them, and got a nice amount in academic scholarships to each. But my family made "just enough" to not qualify for any financial aid, so we couldn't afford the schools I wanted. Ended up at UD by default. People frequently talk about college being the best years of their lives... not for me... it was just something I had to go through to get started on a career. Regardless of what the University itself says, UD IS a party school. And I'm not big into partying like that. So I went to class, and that was it. I feel no deep love for or connection to the school... didn't then; still don't now.

Of course, with the skyrocketing cost of even in-state tuition, I fear my kids (11 and 13 years away from college) won't even be able to afford UD by then.

Wed, Sep 11, 2013 10:20am
I entered Delaware in my junior year. I had a full scholarship so money was not issue – location was. Early on, I had the opportunity to see a class roster. Included were name, social security number, and home state. Why did the professor need to know my state? Professors are instructed to weed-out Delaware students whenever possible.

Upon graduation, I began working for the university and continued to do so for 17 years. That was beyond too long. I have been away from there since 1990, but I still loathe the place. As a native Newarker, I have numerous issues with the institution.

But all that aside, where do we place blame? I start with the University Police. I have been with numerous officers as they drank before their shift. They should not be allowed to carry weapons. Next, I blame Newark police who may not be properly trained to react to situations such as this. But they should be. What happened is repeated often on a smaller scale on Main Street Friday nights. It is simply not reported. Finally, I blame the numerous bars and the thriving fake I.D. business. I observed one bartender examine a very young customer’s driver’s license. She pointed out to the customer that his date of birth was 1938! She served him anyway!

The culture of Newark has changed significantly in the past twenty years. Law enforcement needs to change with the times.

Wed, Sep 11, 2013 11:52am
Well, everyone has their own value system. Whereas if one's value system is flawed, that may make their judgment flawed as well..

Had to look it up but Delaware is ranked 75th by U.S. News and World Report. This is the one yearly ranking for which every university vies.

IF you clip these schools which are obviously out of Delaware's league off the top - Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Dartmouth, University of Chicago, University of Penn, Duke, MIT, CIT, John Hopkins, Northwestern, Brown, Washington St. Louis, Cornell, Vanderbilt, Rice, Notre Dame, Georgetown, or Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, Boston, College, William & Mary - than Delaware is included in the remaining top 50... Not a bad ranking at all. As far as state universities go, it puts us tied for 18th... Meaning there are 32 states universities that are ranked worse.

If you look at specialties rather than overall, UD excels in high regard. It is ranked 37th in education, which makes a complete mockery of those ridiculous state Democrats, David Sokola's and Earl Jacques' attempt to toughen state standards in their recent controversial bill SB 165 which will do great damage to the exemplar quality already in place... Most people, like those on this thread, just accepted their word that Delaware teachers were poorly trained. Actually, because we as a state would have a higher concentration of graduates from the 37th best educational school all in one state, (other states' teachers would have their good teachers diluted with poor due to their size,) we probably have the best teaching staff of any state in the Union. The SB 165 bill just passed now waters down those standards, just as Common Core waters down the curriculum in our public schools. A very bad thing for America, I should add.

Delaware is 62nd in Computer Engineering, 50th in Civil Engineering, and 49th in Mechanical Engineering...

Just for the record, there are 2,574 four-year colleges in the U.S... including both public and private. (629 are public)....

And although many may bash any drinking that goes on... it is no more than what I did in my four years of growing up... in which I probably learned more useful items - knowledge I still use everyday - than I did in 4 years of formal study.

Wed, Sep 11, 2013 6:27pm
I'm sticking with Widener. Once again, it's safer in Chester.

Add your comment:
Attention: In an attempt to promote a level of civility and personal responsibility in blog discussions, we now require you to be a member of the WDEL Members Only Group in order to post a comment. Your Members Only Group username and password are required to process your post.

You can join the WDEL Members Only Group for free by clicking here.
If you are already a member but have forgotten your username or password, please click here.

Please register your post with your WDEL Members Only Group username and password below.

Copyright © 2014, Delmarva Broadcasting Company. All Rights Reserved.   Terms of Use.
WDEL Statement of Equal Employment Opportunity and Outreach