Editorial: Spring Weekend 2013 could be a positive, on-campus celebration
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 21:09
In this fourth week of the fall semester, students and administrators alike are facing huge workloads in the form of exams, room changes and other concerns. Despite the large number of pressing issues, we must all look ahead and start discussing something that will be here sooner than we know it: Spring Weekend 2013.
Even those students who are new to UConn are likely familiar with this infamous weekend, which takes place one week before spring finals begin. New students are probably just as familiar with the administration’s lockdown approach during the past two years, characterized by bans on guests and events, numerous police roadblocks and requests for students to “go home” for the weekend.
This approach needs to be changed for Spring Weekend 2013, and that will take a serious collaboration between students and administrators. Past years have seen little desire for student input on the part of the university. This lack of interest in student opinion was made clear last year, when Vice President for Student Affairs John Saddlemire and Chief of Police Barbara O’Connor did not release their plans for Spring Weekend until April 16, a mere three days before the beginning of the event – ensuring that student concerns would have no time to be addressed. That sort of approach is unacceptable and must not be repeated.
Instead, all stakeholders must work on a new approach together. Students are not an irresponsible mob who are just looking to drink too much, get in fights and destroy property. The vast majority are individuals who want to be able to celebrate the end of the school year but understand the legitimate concerns for safety expressed by the administration. As reported widely in past years, over 80 percent of Spring Weekend arrests are of non-students, and the tragic death of student Jafar Karzoun in 2010 was caused by a non-student on campus for the weekend. Students understand the need to prevent individuals with no stake in, or concern for, our university from coming to campus for what they view as a gigantic party.
But many students also want to be able to relax for a weekend before hunkering down for finals. They want to hold fun, safe events like Oozeball and outdoor concerts. They want to see their friends before leaving for the summer. And they do not want to receive letters requesting that they “go home” for the weekend.
This is the perfect time to redefine Spring Weekend. President Herbst committed to allowing academic and other events during Spring Weekend 2013 as long as things went well in 2012, which they clearly did. Also, UConn’s demographics are ripe for such a transformation. Three-quarters of the student population have never seen a traditional Spring Weekend. The senior class saw the old Spring Weekend during their first year at UConn and its perspectives will be invaluable in ensuring that the event does not return to the mess it once was.
Spring Weekend 2013 is one of the most important issues facing the university this year, and we now have the opportunity to address it months ahead of time. We are confident that as long as the administration is willing, the university community will be able to successfully make Spring Weekend 2013 into a positive, students-only event.