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There was yet another riot on The UW's Greek Row last week:

All available Seattle police, the State Patrol, a sheriff's helicopter and campus police were needed to quell an alcohol-fueled disturbance early yesterday morning in the fraternity district north of the University of Washington A mattress was set afire in a street, a vehicle was turned over, and other cars, including three police cars, were damaged. Police estimated total property damage at $6,000. Witnesses and people who called police estimated 300 to 500 people were involved. [Seattle P-I]
Apparently the whole thing started as a block party and then raged out of control.

It's funny how that happens -- parties are held every night of the week without incident, but occationally one hits the flashpoint. In fact, these riots share a lot in common with forest fires, which also seemingly spring from nowhere and catch everybody off guard.

The problem in each case in an overabunance of fuel. That's why I'm a big supporter of The Healthy Colleges Initiative, which reduces the risk of college-based riots through selectively thinning of student bodies. Crack teams of "harvesters" sweep through campus every few months and cull those students that pose the greatest danger. Specifically:

  • Deadwood (students coasting by on C minuses, liberal arts majors, etc.)
  • Old growth (students who have been matriculated for 6 years or more)
  • Shallow-rooted seedlings (First-year students who are just going to drop out after a year of incessant alcohol- and drug-use anyway)
  • Monocultures (students who strive to look like whatever the prevailing fashion is at the moment)
  • Epiphytes (students who are unable to support themselves, and only going to college because their parents are paying for it)
I also think they should air PSAs starring Everclear the Binge-Drinking Bear. "Only You ... Can Stop Knuckledheaded University Riots, Bro"

Posted on October 07, 2003 to Great Ideas, Seattle


Oh dear, I think that I fit into all of those categories during certain points of my University of Washington career. Wait: it only took me five years! And one of those I was out of the state. Still, I would have been very ripe for culling.

Posted by: Ariel on October 7, 2003 1:18 PM

Might I suggest that the "C average" part will take care of the majority of the deadwood. Those of us pulling a decent GPR in certain liberal arts fields, say, history, are actually doing a substantial amount of work, and will end up, you know, generally contributing to society. Barely sliding by with a C average and thus becoming a drain on the university community happens in every major. A huge number of the fraternity brothers at my university are actually engineers, for example.

Posted by: Darcy on October 7, 2003 5:06 PM

"GPR?" i must say, though, that i don't actually recall burning any cars during my liberal arts career. other things? yes.

Posted by: kat on October 7, 2003 6:32 PM

...except that it was a burned mattress - not car. fartknocker.

Posted by: kat on October 7, 2003 6:37 PM

GPR - Grade Point Ratio. Same thing as a GPA, basically.

Posted by: Darcy on October 7, 2003 7:36 PM

I lived across the street from Greek Row at UW for two years. The only problem I have with them burning a mattress is that none of them were sleeping on it at the time.

Posted by: Hildago on October 7, 2003 9:40 PM

Such an ixpensive mattress: $6,000

Posted by: klim on October 8, 2003 3:40 AM

Great Idea, I bet the U could develop a color code system as they stamp/paste/punch student body cards quarterly...This would allow university officials to tell how soon students would be transfering to WSU. Go Cougs! Come one, come all...

Posted by: Mike on October 8, 2003 4:47 AM

If they decided to "harvest" at my school, there's be no one left.

Posted by: Erin on October 8, 2003 7:52 AM

Having no recognised Greek system at my university in addition to an abundance of engineering students at my college specifically means we don't get riots, mattress fires, or any of that fun stuff. Ever. Just studying and the occasional, collective, mental breakdown.

Damn, why can't anything cool ever happen here?

Posted by: Jaclyn on October 8, 2003 8:13 AM

Cull the students! Save the University!

Posted by: breana on October 8, 2003 11:32 AM

The Healthy Colleges Initiative is just a way for the beer companies to give their lagers free reign in the university.

We need to strengthen the Endangered Students Act and stop the destruction of our universities. Go to www.sierramist.org to find out more.

Posted by: Duane on October 8, 2003 1:36 PM

Dang! I always miss burning man!

Posted by: Rob Cockerham on October 9, 2003 12:58 PM

I read through the whole article before I understood that this didn't all take place on Geek Row. I found myself impressed at the engineering students in Washington for knowing how to party.

Posted by: Russell on October 15, 2003 10:28 PM