University of Dayton says social media swelled crowd on St. Patrick's Day

DAYTON, Ohio - Social media messages helped bring out more party-goers at the University of Dayton for what became a melee that police in riot gear finally quelled.

"That (social media messages) really expanded it from the normal parameters of how many people would come," said freshman Kelcey Batzer. People began sending and posting messages about the party and drinking 40-ounce bottles of beer, a few hours before it got out of control and many broken bottles littered the area.

University of Dayton officials are reviewing the St. Patrick's Day event and say students who engaged in inappropriate behavior face disciplinary action. The Dayton Daily News reports ( ) that five students were cited by the university for not complying with officers, while a non-student was arrested on charges of underage drinking and public intoxication.

"Administrators also have launched a thorough review of the inappropriate use of alcohol by some students," Allen Hill, chairman of the board of trustees, said in a statement. "That's an issue that faces universities across the nation, and as a university and a board, we have a responsibility to address it."

More than 1,000 people gathered in the early morning hours of March 17 at the school in southwest Ohio. Police responding to a false alarm were met by beer bottle-throwing partiers.  The university's president was escorted from the scene after he was struck by a police shield after going to the site to investigate. At least 11 cars were damaged.

University officials, the student government president and the student newspaper have all criticized the party-goers. Hill said their behavior doesn't reflect the vast majority of students.

Ohio University police chief Andrew Powers said social media messages have helped people organize large spring parties in Athens.

"Certainly, people Tweeting about a situation may draw people to the area to see what's going on," Powers said. But he said there also have been a lot of messages about the large police presence, which might have deterred some people from bad behavior.

"I guess in the final analysis, social media is like any other communication technology -- sometimes it will work for us, sometimes against us," Powers said.

The University of Cincinnati's journalism department head, Jeff Blevins, said social media can also benefit law enforcement by quickly providing useful information to investigators.

"It only takes one Tweet to come across for a law enforcement officer to immediately know what's going on, who's involved, and probably who started it," he said.

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