Most of the students and party-goers streaming back to the safety of their homes after an unruly block party last month had a few stories in common.
Besides complaining about what they perceived to be an overreaction by police, as they talked about what it felt like to be tear gassed, most, if not all, of the party-goers said they heard about the party through social media.
An estimated 800 people gathered at the event, with video and witnesses portraying an unruly scene as people climbed on light poles, parked cars, and rooftops, and engaged in expletive-filled chanting, before antagonizing police when they arrived on the scene and tried to send the crowd home.
The police dispersed tear gas, exploding rubber balls and fired pepper balls into the out-of-control mob.
In the fallout from last month’s debacle, CSU has made the first big change in its party registration program, which involves “strongly discouraging people who register their parties to use social media to advertise their event,” said CSU spokesman Mike Hooker.
Hooker added that the university is always looking for ways to improve on the party registration system, and informing people of how quickly social media can ruin any plans of keeping a party under control was a logical first step in light of last month’s events.
Now, a student registering their party will be given a lot of “useful information” which includes the dangers of advertising the event on social media.
Once you start advertising the event on Facebook or Twitter, “you just don’t don’t know who or how many people are going to show up to what you thought was going to be a decent-sized event,” Hooker said.
Both Fort Collins Police Department and CSU administration are working on separate investigations to find and hold those responsible who instigated the riot or engaged in criminal conduct at the block party.
While the university is doing its own investigation, it will also use whatever the police find to assist in holding any students who were involved accountable if they broke the law or violated the student conduct code.
“An important piece that we need to wrap that up will be whatever the police find as well, but we are able to do our own work as well so we don’t have to just wait on the police to finish the work,” Hooker said.
FCPS spokeswoman Rita Davis said the investigation is ongoing and “as soon as we have the appropriate information, we’ll determine if criminal charges will be pressed.”
Davis asked that anyone with video or photos from the evening to send go to them to the “crime tips” link on the city of Fort Collins website.
Senior Reporter Austin Briggs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.