After grabbing the national title for men’s and women’s basketball, the University of Connecticut made national headlines yet again for student actions after the NCAA men’s tournament championship game, which ended with student riots, overturned cars and fires.
As a result of the 60 arrests, one student has been expelled from UConn, another student has been suspended and numerous disciplinary hearings have been scheduled, according to Karen Grava, manager of media communications at UConn.
Various students armed with cameras took pictures of the riots and posted the pictures on student websites.
In an effort to identify students who had caused damage, UConn administrators used 20 of the pictures on the university’s website, asking students to identify themselves or people they recognized in the photos.
“Four cars were flipped and fires were started,” Grava said. “Some students identified themselves from the pictures online, and some students identified people they knew. Students are pretty angry about [the damage].”
However, students charge UConn violated copyright laws by using photos without permission.
Ryan Kreiger, a finance major at UConn, owns the rights to the www.huskynights.com website from which many of the pictures were taken. The website, which Kreiger says was “an idea to get paid to drink and party,” also features pictures of UConn students on spring break, at parties and at bars.
“UConn violated copyright laws by stealing the pictures,” Kreiger asserted. “But, because they’re an academic institution, they have some leeway. We sent them a cease and desist letter and the pictures were taken down [off the UConn website] after that.”
The pictures depict students on top of overturned cars, passed out on the ground and gathering by fires.
Grava said if a student is identified from one of the pictures and does not match the picture, the student would not be punished.
Kreiger, however, said UConn is more focused on punishing students than correctly identifying them.
“[The university is] looking for heads to hang,” he said. “The point of the website is not to get other students in trouble.”
Justin Moffat, one of the students who took pictures, said while he understands UConn’s need to prosecute students, he feels using student photos without the consent of those students was unfair.
“This can cause a lot of problems for students looking to get photos in the future. What happens if a crowd starts to become scared of getting in trouble, [and] after flipping a car, they start to assault those who had the cameras,” Moffat said.
The pictures posted on the huskynights.com website have been featured on Howard Stern, in Associated Press stories, in local news stories and in the most recent issue of Sports Illustrated On Campus.
Kreiger said the media coverage on the site is helping to fund the cost of posting the pictures.
“It’s great,” Kreiger offered. “It’s helping us to find investors for advertising on the website.”