Last march, an annual tradition at UMass-Amherst descended into a melee. Town and campus police officers donning riot gear were called in after a St. Patrick’s Day celebration, known as the Blarney Blowout, got out of hand. Police fired more than 600 rounds of pepper spray and sting balls at unruly crowds, and 21 UMass students were arrested.

But last week, an independent investigation into the incident concluded law enforcement was partly to blame, for responding too aggressively. While the police chiefs for Amherst and UMass dispute that, the episode speaks to the concerns of critics who question whether campus police should be armed.

Elizabeth Englander is a social psychologist and the director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State University. 

James Alan Fox teaches criminology, law and public policy at Northeastern University.