MADRID – No fewer than 25,000 students gathered in Madrid on Friday evening to celebrate the start of the academic year on the campus of Complutense University. The botellón was communicated and organised via Whatsapp.
Around midnight the police arrived and stayed until 7.00 am. However, the police had not been notified in advance. Therefore, it was impossible to break up the crowd without a pre-organised device. Consequently, the officers focused their efforts on avoiding incidents, especially on the roads in the vicinity and around the entrances to the metro.
Eventually, under pressure from the police, those present gradually left. However, due to the lack of transport in the early morning, they went very slowly. The police were reinforced by UID troops from other districts (mainly Moncloa) and air support via drones. The last students had disappeared around 7.00 am.
There was more nightlife this weekend than the week before, but no notable incidents occurred. Every weekend, 200 extra officers are deployed to work to disperse botellones, groups of young people who come to drink and party in public places.
Another botellón in Barcelona
About 8,000 people held a botellón together on the campus of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), in Cerdanyola del Vallès (Barcelona). The university’s rector, Javier Lafuente, told Europa Press that the cleaning crews, who have been working since 6.00 am, still have “hours” ahead of them to clean all the mess left behind by the students and other young people.
The rector announced that the university will take measures to make future botellones on campus impossible. The difficulty here is that the campus is open and accessible from all directions, so difficult to control.
Waste and Vandalism in Madrid
A spokeswoman for Complutense in Madrid also said that the university is making a “damage assessment”. In a tweet with a GIF showing a sea of trash left behind made up of plastic bags, bottles and other junk, the university called on students to take responsibility: “Is this the image we want to portray of the university? It is everyone’s responsibility to stop this attitude.” In addition, the Dean of Law, the most affected faculty, announced that he will denounce “the deplorable acts of vandalism” citing the damage to the “public heritage of the university”. He spoke of an “unbearable irresponsibility” that is “not representative” of the students at his educational institution.
Also worrying is the students did not keep a social distance from each other. They were shouting and singing and did not wear mouth caps. Carmen, a university employee, conveyed the concern that spread among campus staff: “I know almost all of us have been vaccinated. But the idea of sharing the same rooms on Monday is not pleasant after seeing those images.”
Lecturers blame the images from the months of effort the university has made to allow representative education to return. This week, the Red Cross installed points on several campuses in Madrid so students could get vaccinated without an appointment.
The 14-day cumulative incidence of cases in the region is decreasing but is higher than the national average. According to the latest epidemiological report, the region has 100.72 positives per 100,000 inhabitants. And the second most affected group is between the ages of 12 and 19.