Recent waves of college crackdowns on events that tend to foster high alcohol consumption have thousands of students changing their plans, reports Inside Higher Ed.
Schools are cancelling decades-old college traditions and also attempting to call off new parties that haven’t even happened yet in hopes of preventing alcohol-related student hospitalizations and violence that often leads to campus property destruction and arrests.
Earlier this year, the University of Connecticut decided to cancel its Spring Weekend celebration, an annual tradition of pre-exam partying and drinking often referred to as Spring Fling. UConn’s Spring Weekend began in the 1960s as a way for students to blow off steam during the weekend before spring final exams, but as the event grew in popularity more and more non-students began taking part in the festivities. According to a report issued by UConn President Philip E. Austin in January 2011, crowds at Spring Weekend parties have grown from roughly 4,000 people in 1998 to as many as 15,000.
In 2009, 21-year-old UConn football captain Scott Lutrus was among 19 students arrested as the weekend of partying kicked off. He and his brother were involved in a fight and began to fight the police officers that tried to break things up. Nineteen-year-old student Nikita Guryakov was also arrested after assaulting two UConn police officers, reported NBC Connecticut Sports.
During Spring Weekend 2010, UConn and state police made over 100 arrests for numerous offenses ranging from narcotics to weapons possession to assault. Twenty-year-old junior Jafar Karzoun fell backward, hitting his head on concrete, after being punched during the festivities. He died after being hospitalized for his injuries.
“All involved should understand that the university’s first and greatest concern is the safety of our students and the sanctity of our campus and the surrounding community. Spring Weekend has without question become a magnet for toxic behavior and criminality that poses too great a risk to the UConn community for the university to tolerate it any longer in its current form,” President Austin concluded in his report.
The president of Tufts University in Massachusetts has pulled the plug on the school’s Naked Quad Run, a decades-old college tradition of students running around in the nude to celebrate the end of the fall semester.
On March 14, 2011, Tufts president Lawrence Bacow revealed to the Tufts Daily that the clothing-free sprint around the Res Quad will no longer be permitted to take place, telling the student newspaper that the university can no longer tolerate the event in light of the inherent dangers it presents. He cited the serious risks to student safety which stem from a combination of dangerous levels of alcohol consumption, icy roads and cold temperatures. “We cannot allow this to happen, and the Naked Quad Run will not continue,” President Bacow stated.
Although the Naked Quad Run generally begins around 10 PM and lasts one hour, the 2010 event started spontaneously at 9 PM which led the university to decide to cut it off at 10 PM. A Tufts student was charged with two counts of assault and battery of officers and with resisting arrest, reported the Tufts Daily.
“The University and the police reluctantly tolerate the event not because it is thought to be a good idea, but because we think that student safety is better addressed with the event ‘managed’ with safety precautions and student and staff monitoring,” Dean of Student Affairs Bruce Reitman said at the time.
Over the years, Tufts officials expressed displeasure with the Naked Quad Run because the university and police were never comfortable managing an event in which public nudity was permitted to occur and in which an abnormal amount of alcohol abuse is encountered. Due to the 2010 arrest and continually increasing alcohol abuse, President Bacow has decided to cancel the run in the future.
On March 20, 2011 the University at Albany President George M. Philip announced that the school is suspending its annual spring event known as Fountain Day. Scheduled for April 10, 2011, the tradition brings together thousands of UAlbany students, faculty and staff to celebrate spring and the turning on of the main campus fountain.
President Philip’s announcement follows the pre-St. Patrick Day events in the City of Albany on March 12, where six UAlbany students were arrested for participating in destructive behavior. The Times Union reports that hundreds of students got out of hand during Kegs & Eggs, a morning-long drinking ritual before Albany’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.
In a letter to UAlbany students, President Philip said, “I regret that this action will punish students who had no role in the disturbing events of March 12. But the need to proactively respond and to uphold our reputation has never been greater. While Fountain Day continues to be a source of school pride, there remains a contingent of students who use this day as an excuse to promote excessive alcohol consumption that compromises everyone’s safety. This is a regrettable choice, but the right decision.”
Other colleges and universities are attempting to cancel off-campus events, such as Fool’s Fest, an Illinois State University April Fool’s party. University and city officials plan to have extra officers on duty for the weekend starting April 1. “The fact that a cancellation notice has been posted does not diminish what we are preparing for,” ISU spokesman Jay Groves told the Pantagraph.
Unfortunately, it’s probably a safe bet that innovative college students can find a way to congregate and drink one way or another. One reader may have put it best when they commented, “The more you try to stop something, the more people will show…. See you at the party!”
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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