Safety measures will be in place for Spring Weekend

A photo from Spring Weekend back in 2010. This year safety measures and university events for Spring Weekend have been increased greatly.  (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

Additional safety measures will be in effect for Spring Weekend to keep events contained to programming for UConn Students.

“Right around 2011, there was an effort that was really a university effort to make the weekend about university type of events and not just non-sanction events,” UCPD Deputy Police Chief Andrew Fournier said.

When a UConn junior, Jafar Karzoun, died after being punched in an altercation with Edi Rapo in 2010, the university changed the way Spring Weekend is run.

After cancelling Spring Weekend entirely in 2011, the university has gradually begun to reintroduce programs for the UConn students to enjoy in tandem with the creation of more stringent safety precautions.

“Students have been engaged and enthusiastic about the variety of events that have been offered, and Spring Weekend is a great opportunity to build community and have fun before finals,” UConn Spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said.

Strict guest policies will be in effect barring any non-UConn students from staying on campus this weekend from 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 20, to 7:00 a.m. Sunday, April 23.

This ban does not include students who attend UConn’s regional campuses, who are still permitted guests this weekend.

“Some concerns may be that folks that are not connected to the university may not feel connected to follow our protocols or respect the campus or respect other people here, whereas UConn students have extra responsibility, because you go here, to be respectful during Spring Weekend,” Shelia Morgansmith, the Associate Director of Residence Education, said.

The largest issue for ResLife during Spring Weekend years ago was the volume of non-UConn guests staying on campus.

“I think the biggest difference for ResLife between now and then, is that then we weren’t able to predict how many people were going to be there,” Morgansmith said.

All guests must have a guest pass which must be obtained by Friday by filling out the online form.

“It is a way to manage what’s going on in the buildings because far less people visit with these restrictions in place, so I do think it’s effective,” Morgansmith said. “It’s helpful for us to be able to know who’s here in a more organized way.”

Guest passes are not automatically approved, so students must be sure to complete the paperwork correctly.

“We don’t check to see any other information aside from are they a current UConn student and the complete form,” Morgansmith said.

If an unregistered guest is discovered in any of the residence halls, they will generally be asked to leave, barring dangerous situations such as poor weather conditions or inebriation.

While RAs have not been instructed to treat this weekend with higher scrutiny for normal policy violations, students should still be aware of what the consequences of those violations would be, Morgansmith said.

“While the rules themselves don’t change, I think it’s important for students to know what those polices are,” Morgansmith said.

Students will only be allowed to use flex passes to swipe in other UConn students, who must show their IDs, or their parents.

There will also be police checkpoints on North Eagleville Road and Discovery Drive from 6:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. to help curb incidents of drunk driving. These checkpoints can be moved as UCPD sees fit.

“It’s just an effort to keep the community safe,” Fournier said. “There’s an increased interest in the community this weekend, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to set up and provide whatever efforts we can to keep the roads safe and keep the students safe.”

Guests will not be permitted to park on the UConn campus this weekend.

UCPD officers will be present at the various events going on this weekend.

“There is some increased visibility at the various university-sponsored events throughout the weekend; we do have some presence there,” Fournier said. “We’ll be keeping an eye on the campus.”

Fournier said, in the past, there have been high numbers of arrests related to drug and alcohol use during Spring Weekend, but with the introduction of the more restrictive policies, he has seen these go down.

“In the past, we’ve had issues with high numbers of arrests, especially with people coming from outside of the university to the campus,” Fournier said.  

The focus of Spring Weekend has definitively shifted to focus on creating events for UConn students over the past five years, Fournier said.

“In the last five years the police department, as well as other departments in the university, have really come together to focus programming on students and how to make it a safe and enjoyable weekend for the university students,” Fournier said.  

“Most students are very respectful, they understand the fun nature of celebrating their time at UConn and the end of the school year,” Morgansmith said. “The stories of ten, fifteen years ago don’t exist anymore. Students are having a good time and being respectful.”


Anna Zarra Aldrich is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at anna.aldrich@uconn.edu. She tweets @ZarraAnna.