Editor’s Note: This story was written by and republished with the permission of Ithaca Week, a weekly magazine produced by the students of the Advanced Multimedia Journalism class at the Roy H. Park School of Communications, Ithaca College.


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Ithaca, N.Y. — It made USA Today and NBC News. Newspapers and television stations as far away as London and Paris were reporting on this breaking story in Central New York.

A disease? A shooting?

Try over 3,000 college students partying in the streets.

But in light of the events following last year’s Cortaca Jug football game, and with the 2014 installment of “the Jug” occurring this weekend, the focus is now on how to “take back Cortaca,” a mantra now used by the university in its efforts to positively host the annual event.

“A lot of students last year felt that Cortaca was hijacked by outside visitors. It was very rare it was a Cortland Student [being arrested for rioting],” SUNY Cortland Presidentb Erik Bitterbaum explained. “So they want to take it back so it’s for them.”

The University and City of Cortland formed a commission immediately following last year’s event and will now put into action several initiatives to curb the ‘party” culture surrounding the game. Musical act White Panda will headline a Nov. 15 night concert at the school from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m while $20,000 worth of door-prizes will be given out. There will also be “clean-up teams” on the morning following the game to collect trash in the community by noon.

Town bars will also open much later than last year, when many opened their doors at 8 a.m.

But for long-time Cortland resident Stephen Mosher, the new changes could cause further harm to the city beyond the game. “[After last year] I thought, ‘next year, it’s going to be very different because crap is gonna rain down on all the business of Cortland, and that’s exactly what’s happened. Nothing is going to [go wrong, and] they already managed to close down three bars this week.”

The SUNY Cortland University Police Department will be assisted by other SUNY school police while the City of Cortland’s police will be focused throughout the city, said Frederic Pierce, director of public relations at SUNY Cortland.

“There has been an increased cooperation between the city and the college to work collaboratively so that the events of last year are not duplicated,” college Police Chief Michael Catalano said. “There will be a very heavy police presence, with the assistance of other police agencies, throughout the weekend.”

Clayton Street in Cortland was flooded with somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000 intoxicated, college-aged students following SUNY Cortland’s 28-24 victory in the annual rivalry game. About 80 people were arrested, according to Bitterbaum. The majority of these students were not enrolled at SUNY Cortland and were either students at Tompkins Cortland Community College, high school students or simply visiting from out of town for the event.

Taking the dive at Cortaca 2013. Will there be a repeat this year?

Police on Ithaca’s South Hill will also be furthering their efforts.

“Public Safety is teaming with SGA, RHA and other organizations to walk through the off-campus housing areas to speak with students/residents,” said David Dray, deputy chief of the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management. “We will be talking about partying responsibly as well as being a good neighbor. We want everyone to enjoy the game and festivities, but to be respectful of others.”

Even with all the initiatives to create more positive environment for the college communities, some students still feel the efforts to “bounce back” from last year are futile and that the damage has already been done.

“This is my image now when I graduate and have to go on interviews,” Gen Montreuil, a SUNY Cortland senior, said. “But I felt like a lot of Cortland students thought it was awesome to be recognized for all this—that we were the “coolest school,” she explained. “I don’t think they realize all the repercussions that will come from it.”


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.