CARBONDALE • At least two people were hurt Wednesday night during a disturbance at the Southern Illinois University-Carbondale campus when about 1,200 students spilled out of their dormitories during a power outage, campus officials said.
There were a few reports of minor damage to campus buildings when “some people got a little carried away,” SIU-Carbondale spokesman Rod Sievers said.
At least two students suffered minor injuries during fights, Sievers said, with at least one student getting punched in the face during the ruckus. Several ambulances were needed.
Police on campus stopped short of calling the situation a riot, saying a few of the students got out of control.
The crowds started gathering about 10 p.m. after the power went out following storms that came through the area around Carbondale, officials said. At the peak of the outage, Ameren Illinois reported about 2,000 customers without power. At 11:45 p.m., campus still did not have power but the crowds were dispersing and students were going back inside their buildings.
Sievers said he was not aware of any arrests.
Sievers said the power was fully restored by about 2 a.m.
Sievers said one car was damaged while its driver was trying to drive through a crowd. The car’s mirror and windows were damaged. After everyone was back in the dorms, police patrolled the campus and found no other damage, Sievers said.
The campus police investigation continues. Once that is completed, the university will determine if any disciplinary action needs to be taken.
“It was dark, pitch-black out there and people were running around, so it might be hard to pinpoint” who is at fault, Sievers said.
Sievers said students were putting out wrong information on Twitter, calling it a riot. “A lot of kids got on social media, saying tear gas had been sprayed, cars were turned over. That’s just not true,” he said.
Campus police did request help from local, county and state police. The state police arrived in riot gear, but that is standard procedure for that type of response.
Sievers said some students were throwing fireworks, and the smoke from those fireworks may have led them to believe that police had used tear gas.
“But police did not have to do anything like that,” he said. “They monitored (the crowd), kept it contained and waited for it to end on its own. They didn’t see the need for any crowd dispersal.”