The Cornell University Police Department shut down the second annual “Epic Snowball Fight on the Arts Quad” Wednesday, apprehending a student, confiscating tin shields and knocking over a six-foot snow penis.
Chief of Police Kathy Zoner said CUPD officers did not plan on breaking up the event but had to do so in response to a call-in complaint. The officers decided that the event had to be stopped because it was “putting both people and property at the potential for injury and damage,” Zoner said.
As a police car approached from the western end of the quad, the hundreds of Cornellians who had pelted each other with smiles dropped their slushy weapons with disgusted frowns.
“Fuck the police!” someone shouted. “Hit the cops!” yelled another.
Soon, some had rearmed, and a snowball glanced off the police car windshield. Then another. A third landed with a thud. An officer stepped out of the car and was promptly hit in the chest.
For 15 minutes police worked their way through the crowd, but the students — who were packed around the terrace of Olin Library as tightly as the snowballs they hurled back and forth — continued to fire.
One officer, who thought a snowball had been directed at the police, “identified an individual who he thought was involved,” Zoner said.
That individual, Tony, M. Eng. ’11, who declined to give his last name, said police took him and told him to place his hands on the police car.
Tony said the officer took his information and asked if there was “anything in your backpack to worry about.”
“Of course not, officer,” replied Tony, who added that he did have his financial engineering textbook. Upon his release, he was told the officer would run a background check for prior incidences of misconduct.
“I just threw a snowball randomly into the crowd … They said I hit their feet,” Tony said after being released by the officers. “They upset me a lot.”
Eventually, hopes for continuing the snowball fight melted away. But Tony was not alone in decrying the CUPD’s actions.
Caryn Berley ’13 said a police officer told her he “didn’t want to do the paperwork for people getting hurt.”
“[The officer] was condescending and rude,” Berley said. “I wanted to be aware of my rights … It seemed a little strange to me because I didn’t realize you could restrict such things as snowball fights.”
Additionally, Gannett’s official website says that, among other things, “having a snowball fight [is] proven to help [sufferers] of the blues feel better.”
Zoner said the officers understood that “of course people need to release and have fun,” but added they also “need to be cognizant of the dangers they put others in.”
Zoner said some of the snowball throws risked breaking the windows of Olin Library.
“Uninvolved parties have the right to safe passageway,” she added.
“I understand why people wanted to blow off steam, but if we get a complaint we need to address it,” Zoner said, adding that students should “blow off steam productively.”
However, some students disagreed with Zoner.
“If the Cornell police are the same people really stressed by the suicides, why are they asking us to stop relieving stress in a healthy way?” Chris Leyen ’13 said. “This just shows the level of maturity they actually give us credit for.”