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WVU officials begin planning for possible riots

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia University administrators, student leaders and emergency personnel are going door-to-door in Morgantown to prevent another onset of celebratory street riots before this weekend's game against Texas Tech.

While officials are keeping their strategies for combating unruly behavior under wraps out of fear of tipping off offenders, Corey Farris, WVU dean of students, said progress has already been made since Saturday's post-game antics.

"There will be more video surveillance. There is more social media interaction where police can identify people in photos. These are no longer anonymous riots," he said. "We're not going to let up -- we're trying to change a culture. We haven't hit the nail on the head yet, but we will eventually solve it."

More than 1,000 people took to the Morgantown streets following WVU's win against the University of Texas last weekend and started more than 40 fires, destroyed property and threw objects at officers.

Police donned riot gear and combated the crowd with pepper spray and chemical gas.

A total of 181 deliberate fires have been set this year, the fourth-highest number of fires in the 15 years the Morgantown Fire Department has recorded them.

The door-to-door campaign began Thursday evening and targets the Sunnyside neighborhood and the downtown area -- "hot spots" for riots.

Farris said many WVU students have helped identify offenders and are as upset with the riots as administrators are.

"We have students who are vocal about it and say, 'If you're a student that's stupid enough to do this, quit.' This is the first time we've really seen students step up and say this is embarrassing," he said. "The destructive stuff has to stop. Go back to wherever you came from and set your own house on fire. It might be acceptable where you're from, but not here."

Disciplinary hearings for students involved with Saturday's fires are already taking place, Farris said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Reach Mackenzie Mays at Mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.


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