Spring Weekend, one of UConn’s biggest parties and traditions, faces cancellation. According to a report recently released by the school’s UConn Spring Weekend Task Force, one recommendation to control Spring Weekend and reduce the risk of violence is to cancel all university-sponsored events.

The Task Force—comprised of UConn administrators, representatives of the Town of Mansfield, and the State Police—was created last May after a student died at the event. “The mission of the task force was to recommend steps the university could take to ‘deescalate’ Spring Weekend – to make it smaller, more manageable, less attractive to students and non-students alike” according to the report.

The report states that the main problem with Spring Weekend is the attendance of non-students. In 2010, 83 percent of the individuals arrested at the three-day party were not UConn students, and that between 6,000 and 7,000 registered guests stayed on UConn’s campus.

Spring Weekend originated in 1960, and as the decades passed, so did the event grow in size. Police estimate Spring Weekend crowds to be between 10,000 and 15,000 students; compared to 1998, the crowd was roughly 4,000 participants. This increase in popularity and attendance also included an increase in violence, vandalism and medical emergencies at unsanctioned gatherings.

While it is unlikely that Spring Weekend will be eradicated this year, the Task Force has proposed ways to keep the party under control. The Task Force wants to reduce the size of crowds present, reduce the risk of potential crime and deter individuals from attending Spring Weekend. Their suggestions include: prohibiting guests from staying all three nights of Spring Weekend, canceling remaining university-sponsored events that occur during that time, propose a “voluntary moratorium” for Spring Weekend 2011 in light of the deaths of UConn students Jafar Karzoun and Jasper Howard; asking all the students to return home for the weekend. The Task Force is hoping that this moratorium will “serve as the foundation” of their efforts to de-escalate Spring Weekend.

Students’ reactions to the moratorium, however, are not positive. “It was sent to all students. I understand the university wants to de-escalate for spring weekend. However, I think it is ridiculous for the university to expect students to stop drinking and partying even though they asked nicely. Especially when it is off campus,” said UConn student, ”Scott Thies ’12.

How does UConn’s actions affect the Fairfield University community? Fairfield  has it’s own notorious Clam Jam, a beach gathering held the first weekend of May, which attracts both Fairfield & non-Fairfield students. Clam Jam has always been a point of tension between the university students and the townspeople—to the point where a temporary injunction was placed on Lantern Point in 2001, and a permanent injunction in 2006.

But Fairfield students also attend Spring Weekend, because it is considered one of the biggest parties around. “Thousands of people go,” said Mary Cunningham ’12, whose boyfriend attends UConn. “The campus itself already has around 10,000 people and then you get 5,000 extra people, from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island because it’s epic. The school encourages it because they have musical performances and events all day—but then there is the four nights of non-stop partying, hosted by the frats and sororities.”

Both parties are the highlight of the spring semester for each school, sparking a rivalry between the two Connecticut universities.

“Clam Jam is essentially FU’s way to ‘shine.’ It’s an event that brings together a lot of people when the weather gets nice. Everyone is on the beach living the dream,” said Antonio Musto ’11.

The 2006 injunction prohibiting gatherings of 250 people or more on the beach hasn’t stopped the resurgent Clam Jam. Even with warnings of safety from Dean Pellegrino, Fairfield students have still found a way to gather on the beach and celebrate the near-end of the semester. As it stands right now, the voluntary moratorium at UConn is only a suggestion.

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