UMass Amherst Takes Series of Steps in Drive to Thwart Bad Behavior during ‘Blarney Blowout’

AMHERST, Mass. ­– The University of Massachusetts Amherst has undertaken a series of measures in advance of the anticipated and unsanctioned “Blarney Blowout,” on March 8. The university has reached out to landlords, parents, faculty and staff to impress upon students the importance of respecting the safety of others and their property. UMass officials are also directly intervening to stop distribution of T-shirts promoting participation in the event.

“We are acutely aware of the strain that unruly off-campus behavior puts on the community and we are taking decisive action to discourage gatherings such as the Blarney Blowout,” said Enku Gelaye, interim vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life. “While most of our students are respectful of their neighbors in the surrounding communities, those students who are not are being reminded of the seriousness with which the university takes these matters.”         

The university is sending an e-mail message to all undergraduate students and their parents about the consequences of bad behavior, and it is sharing that message with faculty and staff since many have asked for information as the basis for discussions with students. Similar material has been shared with local landlords since incidents occurred last year at off-campus housing complexes.

In addition, letters are being sent to students who have been disciplined for alcohol-related misconduct in the past year and to students who live in an off-campus property cited for noise or nuisance house complaints in the past year.

Disciplinary measures for bad behavior include suspension and expulsion from the university.

Meanwhile, in collaboration with the Town of Amherst, the UMass Police Department has assigned officers to provide immediate assistance to Amherst Police should they request help to manage crowds or disturbances.

The university is taking strong steps to thwart distribution of “Blarney Blowout” T-shirts and other clothing using UMass images and logos. Use of such material without university permission is a violation of trademark law and also could result in sanctions under the Student Code of Conduct. The Dean of Students Office is intervening to directly contact students involved in such activities and warn them of the potential consequences. The university licensing office is working with vendors to stop promotion and distribution of such clothing.

Gelaye, in her e-mail to students, stated:

“I am writing to remind you that “Blarney Blowout” is not sanctioned by the university. Last year, it led to several arrests as students left downtown Amherst and migrated to off-campus housing complexes, engaging in unruly behavior that jeopardized the safety of others and resulted in the destruction of property. This year, in response to the events of last March, police will have an increased presence throughout town and will address any potentially threatening situations swiftly and definitively, up to and including arrest.

“While the vast majority of UMass Amherst students act responsibly every day – both on campus and in the surrounding communities – for those students who violate the University Code of Student Conduct or the Town of Amherst By-Laws, the consequences will be significant and they may be lasting. UMass Amherst students are also responsible for any guest who enters their residence hall or off-campus housing.”