You just can't give some people free shit, I tell you.
Rutgersfest, NJ's Rutgers University's annual music festival has officially been canceled indefinitely. After a more rowdy than normal event this year Richard McCormick, president of Rutgers University, sent out a school-wide email earlier today disclosing that the event had to come to an end because it has become far too dangerous.
"The safety of our university community, and that of our neighbors, is paramount, and we cannot risk further danger or the possible loss of life. The problems that occur following Rutgersfest have grown beyond our capacity to manage them, and the only responsible course of action is to cancel the event," McCormick wrote.
Well damn. Sad faces all around. As someone who grew up right around the corner from Rutgers' main campus in New Brunswick, NJ and has had dozens of friends attend the school, this is some of the worst news I've heard all day. Rutgersfest, which attracts about 40,000+ attendants yearly, is something just about everyone in the community looks forward to every year. The headliners are always quality acts (previous performers include The Roots, NERD, Motion City Soundtrack), the timing is great (the festival is always towards the end of the school year), and it is completely free to attend. Free!
But herein lies the problem. As disappointed as I was to hear the news I can't say I was surprised; every year Rutgersfest plays with fire. The whole thing is a recipe for disaster. Not only is the event free but anyone can attend. The concert attracts people from all over and all walks of life; college students, alumni, guests, even high school students. And those who have experienced Rutgersfest know that the entire day is treated as an all day, opt-in riot. Drinking starts at 9 AM, jello shots are considered breakfast, and the night is not over unless you've gotten caught up in a fight and have fallen asleep fully clothed on a stranger's couch. It's the stuff that college dreams are made of.
With the day becoming increasingly violent as the years have passed, Rutgersfest was due for a cancellation. But I also have no doubt that it will be back eventually. Colleges around the country have annual concerts all the time; it's not the concert that's the problem. It's the uncontrollable crowds that roam the streets afterwards. Rutgers University's Public Safety team and New Brunswick's Police Department need to take a crash course in crowd control because it's their lax enforcement that allows the problems to arise to begin with. To be perfectly honest, a regular Friday night on the streets of New Brunswick are alarmingly rowdy as it is. Add tens of thousands of additional people to the mix and there are going to be some problems. So until the aforementioned teams can step their game up there will always be the danger of groups of kids eager to let out some steam and start some trouble.