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  April 15, 2002

Officials, Students Planning for
Spring Weekend That's Safe, Fun
By Karen A. Grava

Spring weekend should be both safe and fun, and this year's programming is designed to satisfy UConn students and limit outside participation, say student leaders and University administrators.

"Spring weekend should be something that makes you think fondly about the University 10 years from now, when you're sitting in an office. It should not be something you think about later and say to yourself, 'why did I do that?'" says Chris Hattayer, president of the Undergraduate Student Government and a student trustee.

Student leaders this year have planned events for the last weekend in April that include residence hall carnivals and a three-on-three basketball tournament, both on Friday, and an oozeball tournament and a festival with music, dancing and a laser light show on Saturday.

"Student leaders have worked very hard to come up with events that will be fun for students," says Hattayer. The idea was to plan events that could take place outdoors, because students are interested in celebrating the end of a difficult year and relaxing before "the real crunch time" of studying for final exams, he adds.

"Since we live in New England, students want to be outside when it is spring, even if it is a little cold. So we thought that having a concert outside would be an affirmation that we can be outside and we can have fun."

Hattayer notes the spring fling, planned for the football stadium, will be a great event that will offer positive reinforcement for students, while other outside events that emphasize standing around and drinking will be less attractive to students and will provide negative reinforcement.

He says student leaders want to keep outsiders away and keep the fun within the limits of the law. "We think it's great to have people close to the UConn community come. We don't want the people who have no responsibility to the campus - the people who on Sunday morning have no worry about the ramifications of Saturday's activities."

Vicky Triponey, vice chancellor for student affairs, says students will be held accountable. "From my perspective, given the events of Sept. 11, we can no longer stand back and let large crowds gather and hope that things will take care of themselves."

She said that for security reasons students entering the football stadium will be searched, and they will not be allowed to bring in either backpacks or refreshments. Only students with IDs will be admitted, and each student may be accompanied by one escorted guest.

The festival, which will include two headline acts, video dancing, and a deejay, will conclude at 2 a.m. with a laser light show. It will cost $10 for students and $30 for guests. The spring fling will also feature food concessions and various student-run novelty booths, including a dunking booth, a face-painting booth, and a caricature booth. There will also be food concessions, and free sandwiches provided at midnight.

"Party smart" tips are being distributed to students via the web by the Dean of Students' office, along with a checklist for hosting a successful party and a sheet detailing the hidden cost of irresponsible partying. The tips will be noted in a letter from John R. Saddlemire, dean of students, that will coach students on proper behavior.

"Blatant violations of the law and the Student Code will not be ignored," Saddlemire says in his letter. "As fellow members of the campus community, we owe it to each other, as well as to those who have made the transformation of the University possible, to do our part to have a responsible, positive, and enjoyable spring weekend. The very reputation of UConn and your future UConn degree is at stake."

Robert S. Hudd, chief of police and director of public safety, is working with campus groups and UConn and state police to ensure a safe weekend. "Our message is directed at everyone in our community as well as visitors," he says. "The concept is simple. Once all of the planning is over and the event is occurring, it is the police, students, and visitors who will be interacting. To maintain order and safety in such an intense and large crowd environment, police will be in control of the events and activities. We will work to protect people and their right to assemble, as long as all laws are obeyed and a safe situation exists. Conversely, if this does not occur, the police spell out very clearly the steps they will have to take to restore that order and maintain public safety for all in our community."

Hudd says the police are especially concerned about protecting students, faculty, staff, and residents of the Town of Mansfield.

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