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Committee makes recommendations for accomplishing quieter, safer spring weekend

by Richard Veilleux - February 17, 2009

The Board of Trustees last week received a series of recommendations they hope will accelerate the positive momentum established in recent years and lead to a more subdued Spring Weekend.

The recommendations were offered by the Board’s Student Life Committee, chaired by Trustee Louise Bailey. They include reducing or eliminating the presence of non-UConn students from campus during the weekend; scheduling exams or projects for that Friday’s classes; making landlords and students responsible for any costs their actions – or inaction – cause; and curtailing any attempts by off-campus residents to expand the event from its traditional three days.

The committee recommends beginning the process of eliminating, in partnership with local property owners, one of the three traditional but unsanctioned parties – the Thursday night kick-off at Carriage House Apartments about one mile from campus.

Public input
The committee was appointed by Dr. John Rowe, chairman of the Board of Trustees, last June. Since then, the committee has heard from dozens of individuals, including students, town and University officials, faculty and staff, Mansfield residents, and public safety officials. They also conducted an extensive survey, to which nearly 5,400 people responded.

Since 1998, when the weekend reached its nadir, a combination of increased non-alcoholic activities and enforcement has led to fewer arrests, smaller crowds, and less rowdy behavior. Since 2004, 55 initiatives have been launched in an attempt to scale back the unsanctioned activities; 22 of those initiatives have remained in place since 2005.

“One of the consistent themes emerging from the review is the sense of pride and accomplishment people from the student body to the Town of Mansfield feel regarding efforts they have already taken to ameliorate concerns,” the report states. “There is also a common feeling that more can and needs to be done. Efforts in prevention, education, enforcement, and management are reflected in the recommendations. We propose that the constituencies who shared their concern unite in a focused effort to act on these recommendations.”

Strict guidelines
Several key recommendations are intended to keep non-students away from campus during the weekend, establishing strict guidelines for guests, and holding UConn students responsible for guests who violate rules. They also recommend that landlords be held responsible for expenses and the behavior of their residents, to the extent the law allows.

Additionally, to make the town less attractive to visitors, the committee recommended temporarily closing access points to campus, including roads; establishing road check points; and establishing policies regarding underage visitors, including not admitting high school students to campus to attend events associated with spring weekend.

“Any effort to immediately end spring weekend would result in dire consequences, which would likely exceed the capacity of the University and town communities (including public safety officials) to effectively respond,” the report says.

But, it concludes, “the recommendations of this report build upon [efforts already in place] and continue to move spring weekend toward the goal established by the initial charge [to this committee], to establish spring weekend as a safe, community celebration of achievement.”

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