After 3 a.m., I was in my room, preparing for bed, when my phone rang. “I’m on the front porch,” my friend said, sounding panicked. “There’s like ten guys out here, they said they want to get into the house. they’re about to jump me.” Initially confused, my mind started racing; basic evolutionary instincts began to take hold as adrenaline started pumping through my veins, initiating a reaction that has long been referred to as the “fight or flight” mechanism.
Without taking the time to wonder why an angry posse was attempting a forced entry into my home, I immediately shared the news with my roommate sitting next to me. At this point, it seemed that there was no time for anything else but reaction to the situation. Our main concern was for the safety of our endangered friend who, outnumbered ten-to-one on the front porch, was facing a group of intoxicated and enraged young men, evidently posing an eminent and very immediate threat to his physical well-being.calling the police seemed out of the question at the time, as I felt that the minutes spared to make a phone call could make the difference between a harmless misunderstanding and a WCU Safety Alert Email (college student hospitalized after being severely assaulted by group).
As my roommate and I raced down the stairs to the front door, we yelled news of the event, attempting to rally any roommates and friends still in the house at the late hour. Reaching the front door revealed it to be wedged open, a chair turned on its side blocking full entrance to the house. One of my friends stood inside, in front of the cracked doorway, attempting to reason with the group outside on the front porch. The rest of us gathered behind him- six of us inside, 10 or more outside, attempting to force their way in, but unable to; they were hindered by the overturned chair blocking the door.
Quickly gathering behind my friend at the entrance, we heard his attempts to calmly dispel the hostility. Peacemaking efforts went in vain; however, as his voice was drowned out by expletives shouted through the doorway by the aggressors, which, in turn, incited mounting hostility amongst our group on the inside of the house.
Tension increased rapidly- shouts of “get off of our porch” were met with insults from those outside, both groups began to press forward, each unable to completely face each other because of the barrier that the semi-open doorway presented. a beer bottle was thrown into the house through the crack in the door by one of the group outside, and the sound of shattering glass was the catalyst that prompted an immediate digression into chaos. someone on the inside of the house threw the chair that was keeping the door closed out of the way, and madness broke loose as the door whizzed open with a slam.
After that, it was a blur. Not wanting to resort to violence, but recognizing the need for some sort of action, adrenaline and instinct overtook rational thought, and the fight flooded out onto the front lawn. Someone tackled one of the opposition into the grass; one of my friends dodged a punch and returned with a right hook that knocked a guy off of his feet- an initial victory was short-lived, however, as three comrades of the downed fighter swarmed my friend with punches; overwhelmed with blows he put his hands up in an attempt to shield his face. That particular skirmish was ended as two more of my friends managed to forcibly restrain the attackers.
As both groups mobilized, fights continued to erupt between individuals. People continued to exchange blows, the smack of fist-to-head impact audible as members of both camps were dropped to their knees. Guys on both sides tried to hold their friends back; it is important to note that not everyone was fighting- an effective analogy would be to imagine a group of people attempting to put out fires while other people in the same group continued to start them. As one scuffle was broken up, another would erupt five feet away. One kid was thrown into the side of a car, another got blindsided with a punch to the back of the head as he was attempting to keep two others from fighting. I threw off my sweatshirt and tightened my belt as I realized that, at the very least, I needed to help physically restrain people to keep the melee from escalating. Things progressed in this manner for a few more minutes, and then eventually dissolved, as members of both groups were eventually able to effectively restrain their friends, and put an end to the violence.
It is no secret that episodes similar to the one mentioned above occur often- practically on a weekly basis. I am sure that everyone reading this has seen, heard of, or at least read safety emails sent out by WCU detailing violent events; this is a reality that I consider an utter travesty to the values that we, as scholars, are meant to uphold. The fact that adults (which we all are) persistently conduct themselves in this sort of senseless and disgraceful behavior is absurd. It is a fact that only three in 10 American citizens have a college degree, meaning that students matriculating at WCU are part of an elite intellectual group in the country. Those who take pride in participating in such idiotic behavior as inciting violence for fun, or “jumping” people who are out-numbered (does anyone really think that makes them tough?) do not, in my opinion, deserve to be part of WCU.
Only by sheer dumb luck were serious injury and police presence not part of the events detailed above. Physical violence, especially while participants are intoxicated, can lead to severe injuries. Alcohol inhibits balance and coordination, making you more susceptible to receiving a serious blow, and effecting your body’s reaction after you are hit.
Not only is a drunk person more likely to get hit, but when they do, they are more likely to fall without bracing themselves for impact- making them susceptible to serious head trauma; both from the blow from the assailant, and the pavement. The probability of neck, spine, and head injury is thus increased exponentially, which can and has resulted in death. Examples of such abject tragedies can be found easily, and en masse, with a simple Google search.
If the police had been involved, all participants in the fight would have been subject to a multitude of legal ramifications, ranging from multiple summary fines and expulsion from WCU, to felonies and arrests. If a police officer stops a drunken fight, participants will be charged with summary fines including (but definitely not limited to) disorderly conduct, public drunkenness, trespassing. the list goes on, and each offense carries a fine of a several hundred dollars.
Further, aggravated assault, defined as “an attempt to cause serious bodily injury to another or cause such injury purposely, knowingly, or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life” was definitely relevant in this case, and is one of the several felony offenses that violent offenders are subject to. Felonies, for those of you unaware, result in jail time, massive fines, and stay on your “permanent record.” Any one of the people participating in the debacle narrated above could easily have been charged with aggravated assault, especially those who were “tough” enough (ha) to simultaneously attack one person.
If you are fighting, especially if you are drunk, the chances that someone could be killed, or suffer debilitating life altering injuries, is drastically increased.
If you are arrested for fighting, especially in an instance similar to the one mentioned above, getting expelled from WCU is the least of your worries- unless, of course, heavy fines, jail time, and having to admit that you have been convicted of a felony whenever you fill out a job application are on your “to do list.”
We, as students of this excellent University, are here to gain an education, not to act like mentally-deficient animals. Don’t be an idiot.
Matt Boyd is a student at West Chester University. He can be reached at MB634884@wcupa.edu.