CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia University officials said they are investigating after multiple students threw objects at police, set rubbish fires, drank underage and violated open container laws in Morgantown over the St. Patrick's Day weekend.
Ken Gray, vice president for WVU's Student Affairs, sent an email Monday to students promising swift disciplinary action against those who violated the student conduct code.
"What has been reported and observed over the weekend by University Police and local authorities is unacceptable. Our campus and local police officers, fire officials and other authorities work hard to protect you and the residents of Morgantown," Gray wrote. "The behavior exhibited by some of you this weekend is not only disrespectful of law enforcement and our community, but dangerous and unlawful."
Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston said at least 40 WVU students were issued citations Saturday for drinking in public or drinking underage. Police were kept busy all night breaking up out-of-control parties and responding to multiple fires, Preston said.
Morgantown Fire Captain Ken Tennant said firefighters extinguished 18 Dumpster fires, 17 street fires and one vehicle fire.
At about 5 a.m., a fire was intentionally set to a semi-trailer, which melted the siding off an adjacent building, Tennant said.
According to Morgantown city code, burning couches or starting Dumpster fires can constitute a charge of felony fourth-degree arson.
Conviction of a fourth-degree offense, or attempted arson, carries one to two years in prison, a fine of as much as $205,000, or both.
If the suspect charged is a WVU student, they must go before the Student Conduct Board, where they could be suspended or expelled from the University.
Gray said university officials are reviewing videos and other surveillance from the weekend to identify offenders.
Reach Travis Crum at travis.c...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.