April 19, 2011
Members of the Rutgers Community:
With regret for the loss of a long-standing Rutgers tradition, and with admiration for the students who worked hard to plan and run the concert this year, I have decided that the university can no longer continue to hold Rutgersfest.
As you may know, the concert this past Friday, April 15, drew tens of thousands of people to the Busch Campus in Piscataway. These included not only Rutgers students but also many individuals and groups not affiliated with Rutgers, who learned about Rutgersfest through various social media channels beyond the university’s control. A large crowd descended on New Brunswick’s 5th and 6th wards after the concert for a night of partying. Anticipating this, the university had worked with the City of New Brunswick in advance to plan for the possibility of disruptive behavior. Among other steps, we provided for several dozen additional New Brunswick and Rutgers police officers.
However, even this additional police presence did not contain the disorder that occurred Friday night and early Saturday morning. Many streets were congested with people and there were multiple reports of disruptive conduct. Near the College Avenue Campus there were many rowdy student house parties, incidents of public intoxication, littering, and vandalism, and several altercations among students and other individuals. Most disturbing to report, four non-Rutgers people were shot in three incidents during the course of the evening. The fact that none of these shootings resulted in life-threatening injuries does not diminish their violence, and I am gravely concerned about the danger to our students and our neighbors.
I understand that the decision to end Rutgersfest will disappoint many, and I want to thank the students and administrators who organized the concert, working hard to promote responsible behavior and to make it a safe and enjoyable experience. But 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.
Richard L. McCormick
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey