To Our Community:
We write to you together today to say thank you.
As many of you know, the period once known as “Spring Weekend” began harmlessly many years ago as an end-of-semester tradition for UConn students. However, over four decades, it gradually became an ugly and destructive event that was increasingly dominated by non-students with no connection to UConn or Mansfield and little to lose. It put our community and our students at risk. The evidence of this was endless: fights, fires, vandalism, theft, and violence became its hallmarks. It was disturbing in equal measure to both the University and the residents of Mansfield, who suffered from its consequences each year.
Thanks to the combined efforts of our own students, public safety and other university personnel, state and local police, the town of Mansfield, and area property owners, that unwanted recurring event has come to an end. To all those who contributed to this positive change, we thank you on behalf of our entire institution and the town of Mansfield. Most especially, we thank the students of the University of Connecticut, without whom this partnership would have been ineffective.
We have received very positive feedback from many UConn students, our faculty and staff, area residents, and from throughout our state, which collectively came to see “Spring Weekend” as a stain on the University’s reputation and – by extension – an embarrassment to the state of Connecticut itself. It was not the University’s problem alone, but the University had to play a leading role in addressing the weekend and its consequences. The fact was: we knew UConn was better than that.
This is not a view shared by everyone; many non-students and some of our own students lamented its demise. They noted, as the University did, that UConn students were never really the root of the problem; for example, non-students who traveled to Mansfield accounted for between 80 percent and 90 percent of the arrests made each year.
Others objected to the police presence and restrictions on campus, suggesting that students were being adversely affected by the measures designed to keep those with no UConn connection away from campus. That is true – but by necessity: there was no practical way to create an effective filter to separate students from non-students and, beyond that, in order to begin new traditions, the old first had to be ended.
And so, in addition to saying thank you, especially to students, for your contribution to the effort to end Spring Weekend, we also write to you today about the future. Over the next year, we look forward to engaging in a discussion across our campus and in the community about establishing new, more positive end-of-semester traditions that are exclusively for UConn students and are both safe and enjoyable. We cannot put it better than one student recently did when he said simply that he “would like to have fun with my friends” and fellow students at the end of the semester before finals begin. That is a good place to begin.
University of Connecticut
Town of Mansfield