During the night of Oct. 12th, a riot broke out in Bellingham when police attempted to break-up a block party. A heated argument led to partiers throwing trash and rocks which police responded to with pepper spray and smoke bombs. Glass was smashed, police were assaulted and several bystanders were injured through no fault of their own. When the smoke cleared and the internet flooded with pictures of torn up street signs and vandalized police vehicles, the curse on the public’s lips was ‘WWU.’ Western Washington University President Bruce Shepard has since stated that, though the school suffers from substance abuse and a partying image, the school actively discourages both and that the incident is extraordinary. He is not alone in believing that the riots should not further tarnish the school’s reputation.Many students have spoken out in the defense of their school, demonstrating disgust at the actions of the party-goers. Arrests are being made, tenants are being evicted and all authority figures are vying to show just how they deal with ‘troublemakers,’ largely in an effort to erase any bad marks on the university’s record, but at the time of writing no students had been charged with violating any crime. The sentiment among the university community was that the party had little to nothing to do with them.
It doesn’t matter in the end.
A party went too far and was rightfully forced to a stop, those blatantly involved are being tracked down and prosecuted.
A school’s image need not be tarnished merely because of proximity, regardless of whether or not Western students were actually involved or not, any more than any other community would need to be tarnished because it happens to contain a few unsavory people. You and your family can go to Western now and not worry about what people will think about you, though it’s not like the attention span of the average civilian is going to retain this day for very long anyway. And if danger is your fear, than luckily Bellingham remains a relatively safe place to live. Just avoid the sound of beer bottles clapping against cement and you’ll be good.
No, the big problem with this is a simple question of priorities. There are a thousand decent things to riot about that effect you, the reader, no matter who you are, more than a party being ended. There are wars, criminal governments, plagues, hunger, torture and unethically treated sea sponges and every single one of these things is far more pressing of an issue. Our very own government is only just now, after two weeks of tomfoolery, managing to reopen and even then, for a limited time which is just to allow them to bicker more, and there are no headlines in the news about riots for things such as this. What does it say about Bellingham, Wash. and the United States that we only get up-in-arms about a ruined party?
Brennan Treftz, a current BC student who hopes to transfer to Western sometime next year, believe that it says loud and proud that, “It means we aren’t boring, duh.”