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Steven Gold

October 25, 2010

EN 280

Bridgewater State in the News: Fair Coverage or Not?

Bridgewater State University has been in the news lately, but not in a positive way school

officials would like. There have been multiple incidences on and off campus that have attempted

to show the school in a negative light. Local coverage has been focusing on fistfights,

unauthorized trips out-of-state, and rowdy off-campus parties that have disrupted the neighbors.

Are these events rampant only in Bridgewater, or do they occur at other colleges but are not

getting as much attention?

Since the Fall semester opened at Bridgewater State University, there have been a few

high-profile incidences that have garnered attention in the local news. The early September trip

with 150 Bridgewater State students to Providence nightclubs (unauthorized by the school), was

the most high-profile. The students rented a few buses and came back at 2AM and three separate

fights ensued. A gun was reportedly drawn in one of the fights, and gunshots were heard later.

Two of the fights had 25 or more people involved, necessitating the campus police to call for

local law enforcement. The other fight involved a non-Bridgewater State student and a 22-year-

old student who was hit in the head with a bottle. The coverage initially was quiet on campus.

Local coverage, mainly in ð  , reported the incident on the front page. Local

television reported on the incident and interviewed some oblivious students to the recent activity.

The report made it seem as if the majority of the students did not care what happened, or had no
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clue it happened. Is it true that many Bridgewater State students do not care about their school¶s

problems or reputation?

After talking with some students from Bridgewater State, it can be said that many of the

students did not take issue with the coverage the school has gotten. A lot have not followed the

news about the recent events involving the school. Of the handful of students I asked about the

current events surrounding the school, most admit they don¶t worry about the school¶s

reputation. Paulo Montrond, a senior at Bridgewater State, summed up all the news, ³It doesn¶t

bother me, I just come here for classes.´ It definitely makes a difference for commuters, as

Montrond is, than residents either on or off campus. In those cases, the spotlight is on the

residents, not the commuters.

Residents of Bridgewater State have been the focus of the coverage. Whether they are

causing problems in off-campus housing, or going to parties and stumbling back to their dorms,

the news has been about them. In a recent   story, neighbors on Burrill Avenue

complained about ³bikini-clad college students´ drinking beer while they lounged in an

inflatable holding signs saying ³honk your horns if you think we¶re sexy.´ According to the

article, one neighbor said ³the horns honked all day.´ The   article talked about how

³it¶s been progressively worse the last three years,´ in the town. In another article from ð 

  , titled, ³University aims to keep students from acting out,´ campus Police Chief

David Tillinghast, said student behavior has been ³no better or worse´ than past years. In many

instances, news coverage depends on previous events, meaning if some incident occurs and gets

news coverage, the school will get more attention from the press moving forward.
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When looking at crime figures at different area colleges, UMass Amherst, Boston

University, UMass Dartmouth, and Bridgewater State, the numbers are similar. For this year,

comparing UMass Dartmouth with Bridgewater State (since they both have similar enrollment

numbers: 9,934 for BSU and 9,080 for UMass Dartmouth), the facts are: UMass Dartmouth has

more instances of reports of property crime (210), burglary (66), theft (141), and assaults (8)

(Source: http://www.helloboston.com/crime.cfm). Bridgewater State¶s recent coverage in the

news isn¶t just local newspapers, ð 


  , as well as Channel 5 have covered the

events. It seems the more recent coverage of the problems at Bridgewater State have been

because of the previous problems. For instance, in an October 9, 2010 article in ð  

entitled, ³Another black eye for Bridgewater State University,´ reported on an incident that

occurred off-campus involving students who were threatened and property was damaged. The

coverage mentioned it had been the ³third violent BSU-related incident in recent weeks,´ not

mentioning that the incidences are unrelated to each other.

To be fair, residents of Bridgewater who live near the school have always dealt with

problems involving the students. In the article from ð   titled, ³Bridgewater State

University neighbors say partying worse than ever this year,´ neighbors were interviewed talking

about recent issues involving kids drinking on street corners because they weren¶t let into a

house party, and others trespassing onto their property. They are all problems that residents have

always dealt with. In a college town, there will be disturbances for the neighbors. What was

about the article mentioned was that they brought up the school being a ³dry´ campus as being

one of the problems. Students go outside the school zone to drink and stumble back to their

dorms. One student, who lives on Burrill Avenue, mentioned that Ivy League schools have more
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lenient alcohol policies than Bridgewater State and said ³you have to be realistic,´ regarding an

alcohol policy. Students find ways to drink where they can.

It is interesting the coverage Bridgewater has gotten recently. While it is true there have

been many issues involving students, they are not really different from what other colleges deal

with. The problems are put on the neighbors and the police and it is one of the issues that are

part of being a college town.