UMass chancellor, students discuss Blarney Blowout - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

UMass chancellor, students discuss Blarney Blowout

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On Thursday afternoon, for the first time, University of Massachusetts students concerned over police reaction to the Blarney Blowout got to have their questions answered by the chancellor of the university.

Both sides agreed that something has to change.

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result," said UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, quoting Albert Einstein to begin Thursday's open forum.

After seeing nearly two dozen of his students arrested during the Blowout on March 8, he wants their peers to help provide answers.

"I said we're going to have to have difficult conversations, open dialogue," said Subbaswamy.  "Students have to be a part of the solution, so I'm very happy to have this open forum."

Katie Connell and Jishava Patel were two of the co-organizers of Thursday's event.

Both were part of the Blowout crowd that police had to disperse with riot gear and pepper spray.

"We're really looking to start a conversation and get some concrete next steps going, in terms of how to create a safer type of environment," said Patel.

For students who sat in on the discussion, but did not attend the actual blowout, they said it has an effect on them too.

"For me as a student, I felt very unsafe watching the police treat the students so violently and vigorously," said Evan Schlick, a sophomore at UMass. "As a whole, I feel like they overreacted."

While they work on answers, Subbaswamy said people should focus on what the university is up to now.

"We're back to doing our business," Subbaswamy stated. "People are studying hard, exams are coming now. Sometimes, but rarely, things get out of hand. But it's a very normal campus."

In all, a little over 40 students attended Thursday's forum, which left some of the attendees disappointed.

They would like to see more self-policing done to keep the peace.

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