Issueless campus riots: Toward a structural account of disorderly gatherings, 1997-2007

John D. McCarthy, Patrick Rafail, Clark McPhail, Andrew W. Martin, Edward T. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Serious public disorders on or near US college and university campuses became common in the mid-1990s and have remained widespread. This research examines the structural conditions of campus communities where disorders are more likely to occur, drawing on findings from earlier work on racial disorders occurring in American cities during the 1960s. We propose several predictors of disorderly events, including concentrated student populations, alcohol availability, campus drinking behavior, and police behavior. We use a sample of 226 disorders occurring on the largest 274 campus communities between 1997 and 2007. Our results show that institutions with a combination of high student density and extensive alcohol availability experience the most disturbances. Aggressive policing of alcohol-related infractions is also associated with the likelihood of disturbances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)870-894
Number of pages25
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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