Ashley McDermott ’26
When standing outside of Gampel Pavilion late on Monday night, you could feel the energy permeating from inside the arena. UConn students filled the space, watching their school’s D1 basketball team defeat San Diego State in the national championship game. A few friends and I took the trip to UConn’s campus in Storrs to experience the celebration that followed their victory. What we did not expect, however, was the overwhelming response from UConn’s huskies after the game. What started as a parade throughout the campus turned into mass chaos, with property damage, fires, and injuries.
The UConn police are currently investigating the vandalism on campus that occurred late into the night. At around 11:40 p.m., students rushed from Gampel Pavilion out onto the streets. There was chanting, music playing over speakers, and fireworks being sent into the air. My friends and I joined the students in walking throughout the campus, celebrating and cheering for their team. Everyone had their phones out with flash on, creating a sea of lights, to document the excitement. Excitement that quickly turned to aggression.
Students scaled trees and light posts, about 18 feet in the air. Crowds formed outside of buildings on Hillside road, a street in UConn’s campus. The crowds surrounding these buildings were gathering as windows to these buildings were being smashed by students. Once the first window had been broken, other first floor windows became targets. Road signs were being punched until they broke off. Piles of trash and paper had been thrown into the street and set on fire. Bottles were being smashed, and students formed a mosh pit in the center of the street. A car had been tipped over, and many lamp posts had been pushed over by the students. One lamp post was used to ram through the glass doors to the Student Union.
UConn campus police scattered throughout the crowd, putting out fires and detaining students. In total, 15 students had been arrested. In one instance, a student had been brought to the ground by a few campus officers in the center of a mob of students. The crowd of students surrounding them closed in on the officers and student, jostling them while taking videos. In one graphic situation, a lamp post that had been knocked down fell on top of a student. Sixteen students were transported to hospitals in the area, although their injuries had not been deemed significant. My friends and I noticed that custodians working a late-night shift held their phones out of second and third floor windows, taking videos of students. A fire truck had tried to drive through the campus to break up the crowds, but instead it was met with students walking towards the truck in an act of resistance. After a few minutes of the fire truck blaring its siren, it drove away, while the students that were protesting it remained on the street.
Estimates of damage have not yet been determined. UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz stated that those responsible for the vandalism “will face arrest and, if they are students, sanctions up to and including expulsion.” Reitz stated that the majority of students celebrated the victory “safely and responsibly.”
After the event, students took off from campus, heading to UConn fraternity houses and bars. As my friends and I sat outside the UConn Bookstore awaiting our Uber, hardly any students remained. The campus was desolate and apocalyptic with trash covering the street, road signs missing from their bases, and lamp posts laying across the roads. Luckily, the damage and injury caused by these reckless actions has not prohibited UConn Huskies and basketball fans everywhere from celebrating their national championship victory.