Garden Madness

Chaos and confusion filled Section 13 in Madison Square Garden as the St. John’s Red Storm suffered an embarrassing loss against Notre Dame in the second round of the Big East Tournament, leaving many St. John’s students upset about how they were treated by Garden security.

With approximately three minutes left in the second half, security removed the entire St. John’s student section from the arena following a verbal and physical exchange between the students and guards.

According to Kathy Meehan, associate vice president for Athletics, Garden security informed her that the Feb. 7 incident arose after a St. John’s student yelled a profanity towards a young female Notre Dame fan. They asked the student to leave the arena and when he refused, problems arose in the section prompting security to remove all of the students.

However many St. John’s students said that they were treated unfairly and that the Garden security instigated the fights as opposed to controlling them.

“Security acted completely inappropriately. They antagonized the crowd, shouting threats and insults,” junior William Hannon said.

“These guys [security] were trying to get us riled up and trying to cause a situation, not prevent one from happening and that’s what I took issue with,” senior Steve Javors, former Torch sports editor said.

Other students sympathized with the Garden security and recognized the difficulty of controlling the entire Big East Tournament, but still felt the Garden used bad judgment.

“I think Garden security was stressed out after a long day at the Big East Tournament. Once they had one fight beneath us, anything that we did was just as reprehensible as what everybody else was doing,” said School Spirit Committee Chair John Hewson.

Meehan did say that she went over to the section and asked students to leave in order to control the situation. She also said that members of the St. John’s Dance Team and Pep Band told her that they didn’t appreciate the way they were treated by security. However, she understood why the security acted the way it did.

“I saw it as a pileup that security had to break up without knowing who are the good guys and who are the bad guys,” Meehan said. “So they decided to remove everyone from the section.”

The relationship between the Garden security and the students has always been uneasy, with many students upset that they are not allowed to storm the court as many other universities do.

“This has happened in the past,” Hewson said. “There’s really nothing you can do. Garden security is hired independently, so its not really a Garden problem: it’s the security firm that they deal with.”

Garden officials were unavailable for comment.

Despite this incident, students say they will continue to attend and cheer for their Johnnies at the Garden next season.

“I don’t feel I did anything wrong and I see no reason to change the way I act at games,” Hannon said.

“If anything, it’s going to strengthen my resolve and my love for St. John’s basketball,” Javors said.