This Thursday marks the beginning of Spring Weekend, the last weekend of the spring semester before final exams for UConn students, which famously in 2010 led to the tragic death of UConn student Jafar Karzounn. Since then, the university administration and Spring Weekend Planning Committee have transformed the event from one of widespread, public binge drinking and arrests into a more controlled weekend, including heightened security in the form of strict guest policies, roadblocks and other measures, as well as a variety of university-sponsored events.
The increase in university security was more than warranted, given the events of 2010 and dangers in the past and necessary in increasing student safety and preventing similar occurrences. Furthermore, the university has shown a demonstrated effort to provide a variety of events and programs for students to enjoy over the course of the weekend instead, including this year’s lecture with Humans of New York’s Brandon Stanton and a comedy show headlined by some members of Saturday Night Live. While programming events, the university also takes student input into account – with a student Chair and Vice Chair of the committee.
Since the implementation of these reforms, the number of Spring Weekend arrests has decreased dramatically, according to the Hartford Courant. As UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz told the Courant about last year’s Spring Weekend: “I know people still think about the old days when Spring Weekend was really out of control, but if you look at what it is today, it’s an entirely different world.” Reitz continued, “We really have a generation of students who have known the weekend to be what it is now: activities, events, and service.”
Safety must remain the first priority. It is important that students are responsible and stay safe, and if able take advantage of the different events happening around campus this upcoming weekend. However, it may also be time for the university itself to reevaluate the level of security imposed on students, as it is unnecessarily restrictive and costly, especially given an incident-free past six years. The university should consider incrementally lifting restrictions next year and in years to come, without losing the newly introduced community events, to make Spring Weekend a fond memory for all UConn students and alumni.