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  May 5, 2003

Spring Weekend Uneventful But
Drinking Remains A Concern

Spring weekend, a series of official and unofficial events and parties, was relatively quiet this year, but the amount of participatio n by non-UConn students and the underage drinking that occurs remain a concern.

"The weekend went pretty well," said John Saddlemire, dean of students. "Overall, things went well and peacefully. Our students seem to be working better with the challenges of the weekend. The concert was a rousing success. It was a sellout and the students loved it. On the other hand, the unofficial events tax us physically and emotionally."

The unofficial events - parties attended by thousands of people at Carriage House Apartments on Thursday night, Celeron Square on Friday night, and X-lot on Saturday night - were relatively calm.

"I have to commend the police," said Saddlemire. They worked an incredible number of hours. They have an amazing amount of patience and tolerance. They are visible but not confrontational, and many of the students are very grateful they are there. Students know that the size of the crowd can lead to unpredictability and the police are guarding against the unknown."

Students had been advised about what would constitute acceptable behavior for the weekend in letters from Robert S. Hudd, chief of police and director of public safety, Saddlemire, and Carole Henry, executive director of housing and food services, who notified students that they had to register their residence hall guests and take responsibility not only for their own but also their guests' behavior.

"It was clear that the students understood the community expectations, that the messages were well delivered, and that mutual respect and understanding were achieved," Hudd said. "The students responded with cooperation; seemed to have a lot of fun; and, in many cases, offered thanks throughout the weekend."

Saddlemire said the staff of the residential life, student health services, and fire departments also contributed many hours to keeping the events of the weekend safe.

Problems continue with outsiders attending the event, despite letters from area school superintendents to parents asking them to keep their children away. Of the 84 arrests during the weekend, only 12 were UConn students.

"We continue to be a magnet for all kinds of people who have no affiliation with the University," Saddlemire said. "I met people from Manhattan, New Jersey, the Universities of Vermont and New Hampshire, and Boston University. Keeping outsiders away remains a problem."

Drinking during the weekend is a continuing concern as well. This year, several members of the President's Task Force on Substance Abuse attended the unofficial events.

"I was at Carriage House on Thursday and X Lot on Saturday," said John DeWolf, professor of engineering and chair of the task force. "Once implemented, I believe that a number of the recommendations of the president's task force will help us address the drinking by our students in a more consistent and clear manner, and that will impact Spring Weekend. I continue to be concerned that a large number of outsiders influence our reputation because of the events during the weekend."

The task force recently submitted 51 recommendations to President Philip E. Austin to curb drinking on campus over time.

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