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Antiriot plan eyes colleges, liquor sales

Mayor urges immediate expulsions

Mayor Thomas M. Menino asked Boston liquor stores and bars yesterday to limit alcohol sales to students on Super Bowl weekend, and he is urging universities to immediately expel students who take part in game-related riots.

After a meeting at the Parkman House with representatives of 27 colleges and universities, Menino said the schools agreed to act aggressively to prevent raucous postgame celebrations like the one that resulted in the death of 21-year-old James Grabowski after the 2004 Super Bowl.

''They're going to put the fear of God in them," Menino said. ''We want to make sure this Super Bowl isn't a repeat of last year's."

He said some schools, including Northeastern University, have already taken steps to prevent drunken celebrations. Several have written letters to students warning them of the consequences for disruptive behavior, and most are offering alternative parties where alcohol will not be served.

Northeastern officials are distributing graphic posters showing overturned cars photographed after last year's riots and warning students that bad behavior will ''result in separation from the university." Campus police have also been assigned to patrol off-campus apartments, where many of last year's alcohol-soaked Super Bowl bashes took place.

Despite the tough words, it remained unclear whether disciplinary measures would differ from those taken after past incidents, including riots after the Red Sox victory over the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series last fall. Emerson College student Victoria Snelgrove died as a result of police action during that disturbance.

Several college officials who attended yesterday's meeting said the mayor never urged them to dispense with their normal disciplinary procedures or to instantly expel students without a hearing. Instead, he urged them to pursue the toughest possible sanctions against students caught misbehaving on Super Bowl Sunday.

''There was a very strong consensus [among participants] that a message should be given to students that was unambiguous and that included the possibility of expulsion for inappropriate conduct," said David J. Sargent, Suffolk University president. ''But that was not something that anyone suggested should be immediate or across the board regardless of . . . the offense."

But Menino repeatedly emphasized that he intended to take bold steps to avoid a repeat of last year's disturbances after the Super Bowl, when thousands swarmed the streets, some settling fires and overturning cars. Grabowski was killed, and three others were injured when the allegedly drunk driver of a sport utility vehicle drove into a crowd near Northeastern. After the riots, Menino lashed out, blaming universities, which he said did not take responsibility for student behavior, and Sunday liquor sales, even though many liquor stores in neighborhoods near where the riots took place had closed early.

In an interview after yesterday's meeting with university representatives, Menino said schools should automatically expel students involved in ''egregious cases of violence." He said that last year a Boston College student was thrown out the day after he tossed something in a police officer's face. Menino did not say whether the student had been arrested, nor did he cite proof used to determine the student's guilt. ''Within a day that dormitory room was cleaned out, and that kid was gone from the college. No due process," he said, stressing the words.

Sargent, of Suffolk University, said, ''I think everybody understood that what he was saying was the possibility of expulsion after due process."

The mayor, however, ''was concerned that in the past there may have been instances where students were given a slap on the wrist for very serious actions."

Menino said that if schools are not willing to dismiss violators, the city will ''find ways to punish" them. He said police would aggressively prosecute students who are arrested.

Also yesterday, Menino asked the city's 845 liquor stores and bars to limit the sale of alcohol over the weekend. Menino said police and city investigators will be out in force to monitor bars and liquor stores, particularly those in the student-heavy neighborhoods of Allston-Brighton, the Fenway, and Kenmore Square.

Some liquor store operators said they're being unfairly blamed for students' behavior.

''A lot of the people who are causing the trouble never have to pay the price for their actions. They get in trouble, and mommy and daddy take care of it," said Joe Gomes, manager of Blanchard's in Allston.

Richard Savickas, manager of Huntington Wines and Spirits, called Menino's directive a ''preemptive strike" against liquor stores, who can't control customers' behavior once they leave the store. He said the store checks identification and doesn't sell to intoxicated people or sell kegs to students.

Meanwhile, Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen M. O'Toole said she plans to assign 700 to 800 police officers to patrol Sunday night, roughly the same number assigned the night the Red Sox won the World Series. State Police, Department of Correction officers, and regional police groups will make additional officers available.

Boston police will not be armed with weapons like the one that fatally injured Snelgrove, O'Toole said. Pepper spray and gas canisters, like traditional tear gas, would be used, if needed, she said.

O'Toole met at police headquarters last night with a group of about 25 students from various Boston-area colleges to discuss Super Bowl preparations. O'Toole and the students said they were pleased with the nearly two-hour meeting. O'Toole's main concern was how to reach students and send the city's message about zero tolerance.

Students said they do not want to be singled out. ''I think it's important to remember that students are a part of the community," said Jonathan Marker, Boston University's student union president. ''This is no special situation. I hope the mayor and the city treat us the same" as other residents.

Globe correspondents Heather Allen and Madison Park contributed to this report.

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