Editorial: Spring Weekend success should lead to looser policies
Students came out to celebrate Spring Weekend at X-Lot where an estimated crowd of 5,000 wandered in the low temperatures Saturday night. Erin Mizla
This past Spring Weekend marked a small but notable change from the administration's approach over the past two years. No letters were sent to students' parents asking them to make their children come home for the weekend, student organizations were allowed to host events and the administration encouraged students to engage in community service projects and other positive activities.
These policy changes, along with a cultural shift among the student body, led to a successful Spring Weekend 2013. While certain restrictions are necessary, we believe that this year's success is a reason to further loosen these restrictions for 2014.
For years, Spring Weekend was a controversial and deeply ingrained part of UConn's culture. While many students certainly enjoyed the weekend-long party that sometimes began as early as Wednesday, many others felt unsafe due to reckless behavior by their peers and the thousands of non-students who flocked to campus for the event. The administration's main response was a massive police presence and the requirement for residential students to obtain passes for any guests.
This all changed after Spring Weekend 2010, when UConn student Jafar Karzoun was killed by a non-student just off campus. The following year, the administration clamped down, asking students to go home for the weekend, only allowing residential students to host other residential students, prohibiting all events on campus and countless other restrictions. These policies made Spring Weekend 2011 and 2012 essentially nonexistent.
After two straight years of these strict regulations, student leaders worked with the administration to begin a gradual transition of Spring Weekend back into a positive, UConn-focused event. It's clear that the first step in this process was a big success. UConn police reported making only seven arrests last weekend - miniscule compared to the Spring Weekends of years past - and many even said it was quieter than a typical weekend.
In 2014, this gradual loosening should continue. There are certain policies that could be changed in order to make the weekend more enjoyable, while maintaining public safety and ensuring that it remains exclusive to students. For example, the Department of Residential Life should allow residents to host any UConn Storrs student, rather than only those who also live on campus. It makes little sense to prohibit commuter students, some of whom live closer to campus than certain residential students, from visiting their friends who happen to live in UConn-owned dorms or apartments.
Next year, the collective memory of the old Spring Weekend will have largely been erased. Current seniors, who experienced Spring Weekend 2010 as freshmen, will have graduated. With little first-hand knowledge of what Spring Weekend used to be, barring student who have extended their studies beyond four years, students will be free to define it for themselves. Through continued efforts by the student body, in cooperation with the administration, we can ensure that it grows into a positive, safe and fun event.
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