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UConn prepares for Spring Weekend

April 18, 2012 Local News No Comments

Police will set up checkpoints in Storrs (Mansfield) as well as Coventry (along Route 44) as Spring Weekend kicks off, Thursday April 19 through Saturday April 21. Spring Weekend is not sanctioned by UConn, but has for years been marked by parties focused on alcohol. File photo, April 23, 2011 by Marie Brennan

In response to the death of University of Connecticut student Jafar Karzoun in 2010, university officials are cracking down on enforcement measures during Spring Weekend for the second consecutive year.

The event is not sanctioned by the university and is celebrated the weekend before the last week of classes.

It is seen as a way for students to relax and party one last time before final exams. This year, Spring Weekend kicks off Thursday and runs through Sunday (April 19-21).

In years past, parties have become rowdy and at times violent. Police patrol throughout the campus and at off-campus destinations such as Carriage House and Celeron Square apartments, in an attempt to control crowds.

In an op-ed piece published in the Hartford Courant Friday, UConn President Susan Herbst noted that some areas may be “impossible to close off.”

“We do so for the sake of our reputation as one of Connecticut’s greatest points of pride and one of the best public universities in America, but more than anything, we want our community, our campus and our students to remain safe,” Herbst wrote.

Following the death of Karzoun, the weekend was relatively tame last year and police are hoping the same is true of this year’s event.

“We are hoping that based on the communication that we’ve had with the university community and surrounding community, that people understand the need to deescalate this weekend,” said UConn police spokesman Capt. Hans Rhynhart.

Karzoun, a Milford resident, was punched and killed by Edi Rapo of East Hartford during an off-campus fight during Spring Weekend, 2010. Rapo is now serving nine years in jail, suspended after four and a half years, for his crime.

In light of this incident, UConn was a ghost town last year during the popular weekend which typically attracts tens of thousands of people, including many non-students.

University officials have speculated that the weather and the fact the holiday fell during Easter weekend were reasons for lack of participation in Spring Weekend last year.

A Spring Weekend task force was set up by former UConn President Michael Hogan to review the university’s policies pertaining to the celebratory weekend.

The task force issued a report recommending ways to control Spring Weekend, including a voluntary, one-year moratorium.

State police troopers will set up DUI check­points on routes 195 and 44 in Mansfield from Thursday through Saturday.

UConn police will conduct some roving patrols. They will enforce trespassing violations.

Coventry police will work in conjunction with other departments at a DUI checkpoint set up on Route 44 beginning at approximately 7 p.m. on Friday and continuing until 2 a.m. on Saturday.

UConn and state police will block or limit access to certain roads, pathways and parking lots on and around campus.

Additionally, guests will be banned from residence halls and dining halls.

“These are some of the same measures that are in place as were last year,” said Rhynhart.

In the past, the university has sponsored a number of on-campus events during this weekend in an attempt to lure students away from off-campus parties centered on heavy drinking.

These included a spring concert and mud volleyball tournament, known as Oozeball. These events are now prior to Spring Weekend.

This year, most events are banned, including academic events.

Students are being encouraged to go home for the weekend and begin moving their belongings home in preparation for the end of the school year, if they choose.

Posted April 18, 2012 as edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan

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