CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Two West Virginia University students are doing their part to end Morgantown's trend of destructive postgame celebrations.
Summer Ratcliff, a WVU junior from Bunker Hill, said the talk on campus the Monday following the Oct. 6 football win at the University of Texas -- and subsequent riots -- worried her.
"I overheard someone talking about how a light post was torn down on Grant Street. They were talking about how funny it was -- like it was cool," she said. "I spoke up and asked them to tell me why they thought that was OK. Why is it funny that people are destroying our city? He didn't have much to say after that."
The incident inspired her, along with a fellow WVU student and Morgantown native, Brady Tucker, to get students to speak up about the riots and destruction with a social-media-centered campaign called "Protect Morgantown."
The campaign asks students not only to be vocal about the issue, but actually to monitor areas where fires are often set.
"If your group stands beside a Dumpster for two to three hours after a major win, you could prevent one fire from happening. If we were able to get 20 to 30 groups in these high-fire areas, we could help our local police and fire department tremendously," the Protect Morgantown Facebook page states. "We may be able to save a life of someone whose house is really on fire and actually needs help."
The campaign was created in response to rioting by hundreds of students in the streets of Morgantown two weekends ago in which fires were set and objects were thrown at officers following the game. Officers donned riot gear and used pepper spray and chemical gas to disperse crowds.
Since then, WVU and city officials have been planning ways to prevent future incidents from happening.