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University-run events went well,
but future of weekend unknown
By Renu Sehgal
May 9, 1997
University Weekend was a successful celebration of the end of the academic year. Events on campus attracted thousands of students, staff, faculty and community residents.
"I am very proud of the students," said Carol Wiggins, vice president for student affairs. "I'm very grateful to them for all the planning that went into the weekend. SUBOG (Student Union Board of Governors) did the programming, but other student groups such as the sororities, fraternities and the Black Student Association contributed to the success of the weekend."
The weekend, planned by SUBOG for April 25-26, featured activities for the entire University community. The events kicked off on Friday night with several activities, including an outdoor comedy show and a movie at the Student Union Mall. Residence halls held their own picnics. The traditional Oozeball competition was held on Saturday.
On Saturday night, SUBOG had a block party with local bands and carnival rides as well as student and local vendors selling novelties, food and soft drinks. An adjacent college party at X Lot featured a disk jockey sponsored by SUBOG.
The University changed the weekend from Spring Weekend to minimize problems to the community. The weekend, now two days, did not include a major concert and took place on the last weekend in April, as students had requested. All activities were designed for the University community and guests.
"I am pleased that strong student leadership and the cooperative efforts of the University community had a dramatic effect on the positive outcome of the University-sponsored events over the weekend," said Chancellor and Provost Mark Emmert. "Those events scheduled on campus were conducted without difficulty and without disruption. An enjoyable weekend of activities came about as planned. Not only am I pleased by student cooperation in making these events pleasant ones, I am gratified further by the cooperation of many others off campus. A vast majority of students and community residents helped transform University Weekend into a generally positive occurrence."
Police Chief Robert S. Hudd said he was pleased with how the changes worked this year.
"I thought the weekend went very well," he said. "I was gratified with the response of the University community. The Greek fraternities and sororities curtailed their activities completely. Husky's and Ted's need to be commended as well. I have been here for 18 years and I have never seen more of a real team effort on behalf of the entire University. For me, it was the most supportive year I have ever had."
John Dutchover, president of the Greek Interfraternity Council, said the Greeks wanted to help the administration focus on the students.
"The administration is trying to have the weekend focused on students and the University community, so we decided to support that," he said. "We helped the administration in attempting to reach their goal for reworking the weekend. Everyone, not just Greeks, should cooperate with that and participate in the programming provided for the weekend."
"We made progress in overcoming some of the problems we encountered last year," said Tom Callahan, associate vice president for institutional advancement, who has discussed concerns about the weekend with the community. "Nevertheless, the events at Carriage House got out of hand, presenting unnecessary and unwarranted danger to students, neighbors and property. Consequently, the University received unprecedented adverse publicity. It is still an important issue the administration, staff, students and community need to address."
"I am particularly concerned about the negative impact of some who came from off campus with mischievous or malevolent intent and I am deeply disappointed at the events at Carriage House," Emmert added. "We as a University community obviously need to seek solutions to the problems which result in situations such as that at Carriage House. The behavior there was simply unacceptable."
The University has begun a series of discussions on the future of the weekend with students, police, campus leaders and the community.
"We're definitely attracting some unwanted elements that we have to address," Hudd said. "But we eliminated a lot of the problems this year. A lot of things worked very well."
Michael J. Allenby, president of SUBOG, who worked with University officials to plan the events this year, said he thought the changes they made were a good first step.
"I think the University-planned events went exactly as we hoped," he said. "X Lot in the beginning was fine, then it got too big."
Allenby said the problems off campus highlighted a problem with the apartment complex.
"I didn't hear of any major parties at Celeron or Hunting Lodge. Why did it happen at one place only? You have to wonder," he said.
"I can see that in the future, we must continue to discourage non-UConn students from coming to the weekend," Allenby said. "I think students will be enthusiastic about programming for students only."
According to Hudd, police made 39 arrests on campus the entire weekend - only eight were students. On Saturday, when more than 8,000 people attended the campus block party, there were only seven arrests the entire day. The arrests were minor, including driving under the influence, criminal mischief, breach of peace, possession of alcohol by a minor and two cases of assault on a police officer during arrests.