UConn aims to end Spring Weekend parties

By Pat Eaton-Robb
Associated Press / January 21, 2011

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HARTFORD — The University of Connecticut is planning to put at least a one-year moratorium on the annual tradition of pre-exam partying and drinking known as Spring Weekend.

Yesterday, UConn’s president, Philip Austin, accepted the recommendations of a task force that was formed in the aftermath of last year’s April parties, which resulted in 84 arrests and the death of junior Jafar Karzoun, who died after being punched outside a campus restaurant.

Among other things, the task force called for banning guests in UConn dorms during the weekend before spring exams and canceling university-sponsored Spring Weekend events. It also asked students to participate in a voluntary moratorium on off-campus Spring Weekend parties out of respect for the deaths of Karzoun and football player Jasper Howard, who was stabbed on campus in October 2009.

The tradition began in the 1960s as a way for students to blow off steam before exams. As it grew, more nonstudents began taking part in unsanctioned gatherings at off-campus apartment complexes and a school parking lot known as X-lot.

In 1998, the school decided to close the parking lot during Spring Weekend.

According to the report, crowds at Spring Weekend parties since 1998 have grown from roughly 4,000 people to as many as 15,000. The school says 83 percent of those arrested last spring were not students.

The report called Spring Weekend a “magnet for toxic behavior and criminality.’’

While the main attractions of Spring Weekend have been the unsanctioned drinking parties, the school has attempted to provide students with sanctioned alternatives including concerts, mud volleyball tournaments, and other activities. The report found that approach did not work.

The report was issued a day before Edi Rapo, 19, of East Hartford is due back in court on manslaughter charges.

Authorities say Rapo punched Karzoun, 20, of Milford once in the face last April 23. Karzoun fell to the ground, hit his head, and died a week later.

Rapo, who was not a UConn student, told police he did not intend to knock out Karzoun.