UD to send students on spring break for St. Patrick’s Day next year

Police chief says he is disappointed by student behavior

University of Dayton students proved the leaders of their school wrong on St. Patrick’s Day.

Just three days before holiday, UD administrators claimed it was highly unlikely that the disturbances of five years ago would repeat themselves thanks to an improvement in campus culture and memories of 2013 debauchery being long-forgotten.

Students on Lowes Street reportedly threw objects at police, shot fireworks into crowds of people and by 6:30 p.m., officers arrived in riot gear and ordered partiers indoors, though many at first ignored those commands.

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“I am deeply disappointed in the behavior of many of you. I witnessed groups of students assault police officers, shoot fireworks into crowds, and put themselves and their friends in danger,” UD president Eric Spina wrote in a letter to the student body.

Next year students will again be on spring break and classes will resume on March 18, according to UD’s academic calendar. St. Patrick’s Day is always a factor in when to schedule spring break and because of Saturday’s incidents it likely will remain one, said vice president for student development Bill Fischer.

“That is an option that we are carefully looking at in the future, as well as other options…to avoid the escalation of this type of situation,” Fischer said. “So, all of this is on the table for further discussion.”

Dayton police officers responded just before 5:30 p.m. to a report of people trying to assault officers in the 400 block of Lowes Street in the UD student neighborhood, according to a police report.

Police carrying shields formed a line on Lowes Street. Police ordered students to head inside their homes and began moving down the 400 block of Lowes Street in an attempt to clear the crowd.

Party goers threw both empty and full glass beer bottles and cans at police as they moved down Lowes Street, according to a Dayton police report. It’s unknown whether any officers were actually struck by thrown objects, according to a report.

At least one woman reported to police that her car was damaged after her son parked it near the student neighborhood overnight on Saturday. The 2009 Honda Accord had its side-view mirrors broken off, the front fender was dented and the driver told police he believed people had been standing on the hood and roof of the vehicle.

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At least five cases stemming from the weekend riot were pending in Dayton Municipal Court on Monday including charges of noise violations, disorderly conduct, open container violations and public intoxication, according to court records.

“This behavior is absolutely unacceptable, as is the distorted sense of community that encourages and enables it,” Spina wrote in his letter. “Let me be clear: the large gatherings that block streets, the disregard for the safety of others, and the disrespect for the police who were there to keep people safe in no way constitutes community.”

Spina declined to comment on Monday but his letter drew a stark contrast to the hopeful words of administrators who spoke about preparations for St. Patrick’s Day on Wednesday. Just days before the holiday, UD police Chief Rodney Chatman said he believed students knew how to act and dean of students Christine Schramm said that the university was encouraging students to take part in activities without alcohol.

In preparation for the holiday, Chatman last week said “our students behave” and “they know their expectation” but on Monday he expressed disappointment.

“Overall I’m satisfied with the result but I’m disappointed in the behavior that elevated our response,” he said.

Though less violent and disruptive, Saturday’s incidents served as a reminder of the 2013 St. Patrick’s Day campus riot on its fifth anniversary.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Year after 2013 St. Patrick’s Day riots, UD preparing students

More than 1,000 people rioted in UD's student neighborhood in 2013, leaving broken bottles and damaged cars, including a police cruiser, in their wake on Kiefaber Street. Law enforcement from 10 jurisdictions responded to the riot five years ago.

The university has dealt with a series of major St. Patrick’s Day disturbances dating back to the early 1980s. In 1993, UD scheduled spring break to include the March 17 holiday, according to Dayton Daily News reports at the time.

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