Spring Weekend is here and that means its time for some friendly advice, information and entertainment from your neighborhood Operations Manager. Plus, I can't sleep so why not write some bloggings?
First, some background: Spring Weekend, in some form or another, has been a celebration of the end of the semester at UConn for many, many years. It used to be a charitable drive, and WHUS used to participate (this is back in the '50s and '60s, I believe). At some point it became a drunken mess in the dorms formerly known as The Jungle (now just called "North"). Since the mid-'90s, when all on-campus drinking was curtailed (it didn't end, just moved off campus), students started to party in three off-campus locations, Carriage House Apartments on Thursday, Celeron Square Apartments on Friday and the on-campus parking lot, X-Lot on Saturday. An interesting factoid: Which of these three properties do you think is owned by the University of Connecticut? If you answered X-Lot, you're wrong. UConn actually leases X-Lot from a real estate holding company (that lease lapses this summer, FYI). UConn owns Celeron Square, or at least the property that it sits on. Ever wondered why the State Police handle Carriage and the UCPD Celeron? There's your answer. In 1998, there were riots on Saturday night, brought about when the State Police, in full riot gear, prevented students (who had congregated in the adjacent Farmer Brown's lot if you're familiar with the geography) from entering X-Lot. Since then, the Police presence on Spring Weekend has increased exponentially. Each year, you'll notice it grows a little bit more. This is not by accident or coincidence.
Photo from the Hartford Courant. This is 1998. It as not looked like this in many years. Side note, interesting how much riot gear has changed in 12 years.
This year, UConn will see some new tactics: random road closures (tonight, North Eagleville Road was closed, for example), earlier spot checks (tonight at 7:45pm on Rt. 195 b/w Rt. 44 and Rt. 32) and the big one, a near-complete campus parking ban in effect between 6pm and 6am. I've already heard a horror story about a friend of a friend trying to leave for a date and having his exit blocked on all sides by jersey barriers.
So, there's your history lesson. Some advice:
For the community at large:
1. Don't believe everything you hear. Spring Weekend is a large gathering of students and their friends getting drunk, sometimes incredibly, unbelievably drunk. It is as peaceful as a crowd of 10,000 drunk young people could possibly be. Each night, the Police do what they call the "push," (tonight a little before 12), where they line up and slowly move the crowd out. This is met with almost zero resistance. I saw it tonight and everyone just walked compliantly out. Many of the sensational arrest numbers come from collars that are made during the day, many times small marijuana possession charges resulting from traffic stops effected for such egregious violations as an air-freshener hanging from a rear view mirror. By the same token (and not to take shots at the Police), there is no riot gear at Spring Weekend anymore, and hasn't been for many years. The Cops are very very friendly, until the situation changes and it is time for them to do their jobs.
This is also an old picture, but you get the jist.
2. Stay away, unless you want to be subject to delays and police inspection. The company line from the University is that the majority of the destruction and problems come from outsiders, as they are the largest percentage of people being arrested. I don't buy that. In my opinion, arrest data does not adequately correlate the percentage of population causing damage and is subject to lots of intervening variables, such as selective enforcement. At the very least, a more accurate answer would be "we don't really know, but we arrest more non-students than students each year." All the same, if you don't have a reason to be there, don't come. It really isn't that fun anyway.
3. Listen to WHUS for updates. There's really no reason in particular to do that, just a shameless plug.
1. Know your rights. And perhaps equally as important, know how to exercise them. Having a right protecting you from illegal search does not mean you have a right to physically prevent a cop from exacting said search. The only way anyone ever wins a fight with the police (to paraphrase from the Free Press) is in a court. You have lots of rights, so maybe just watch this video, or if you don't have 45 minutes, pick up the UConn Free Press's Spring Weekend Survival Guide issue, which came out this week. They've got a really nice overview. Unfortunately, it isn't published online, but there's some really great stuff in this issue.
2. Don't be an asshole. This is pretty self explanatory. Its not just because nobody likes assholes, its because being one will get you arrested. If you're just sippin' on your beer hanging out, you will not be bothered. Throw that beer? Better believe it. Another fun fact: the prosecutor you will see when you get arrested doesn't like you at all. The CT Superior Court in Rockville (where you will go) is notoriously hard on UConn kids. Staying away from there is advisable. Wanna be a lawyer? Not with a felony, you don't. I hate the scare tactics UConn uses to tell students not to ruin their lives by getting arrested, people can make their own decisions and should know the consequences (and who are we kidding, in the U.S. legal system a rich white college kid with Daddy's lawyer can eat a charge and come out OK). So I tend to think of it this way: If nobody is an asshole, we wouldn't need Police, the event wouldn't have this terrible stigma attached and it could be a real celebration.
3. Educate yourself. Did you know that a group of 27 student leaders (myself included) joined together this past year to try to make Spring Weekend better and more fun? The WHUS Operations Board endorsed our proposal. Read our proposal (click that full-screen button). Read it, along with the University's prompt and unequivocal denial of everything in it.
4. This one's kind of petty. Don't bring glass. It gets broken and people get hurt. Cans are much safer. Also, if you want to drink your booze, chances are you will be more likely to be able to if it resides in a can. Useful selective enforcement there.
So that was a hoot, wasn't it? If you want to have a laugh, check this out: Big ups to President Haggerty et al for having a sense of humor about Spring Weekend. At the end of the day, its a time to celebrate and its a time to have fun. Check it out, the official music video (complete with Husky humping):
At the end of the day, be safe and have fun. And call (860) 486-WHUS to speak to the DJ on the air. We love to hear from you as you traverse Spring Weekend this year!