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Student reaction to the new rules has been mixed. The Daily Campus student newspaper editorialized that the prohibition of overnight guests in dorms will only produce resentment and punishes a few at the expense of many. Instead, it said more stringent regulations on identification should be imposed. The paper also said that cancelling the few on-campus events will only encourage off-campus partying since students will have no place else to go. In various news articles seeking student reaction, it seems that while the moratorium has largely been accepted, many are skeptical about whether it will keep the thousands of nonstudents from showing up.
The director of UConn student health services, Michael Kurland, spends most of Spring Weekend treating medical cases in triage tents. Kurland, who has held his post for 22 years, says that in recent years he has seen a decrease in the number and seriousness of injuries but not “in the level of intensity of intoxication problems.” Part of the decrease in injuries, he says, may be due to “better policing.”
Kurland says Mansfield emergency personnel deal with these issues on Thursday and Friday nights when the off-campus parties are raging. On Saturday, when the scene shifts to the parking lot, he and his team are also on duty. “I spend the majority of my time in medical-care mode rather than prevention mode,” he says. Typical problems include lacerations from broken bottles, injuries from fights and alcohol poisoning. “X-lot is glistening with broken bottles everywhere,” he notes, even though the student government gives out plastic cups and the town prohibits drinking out of open receptacles.
Alcohol and various types of partying have contributed to the deaths of three UConn students in less than four years. On Jan. 22, 2007, freshman Carlee Wines, a 19-year-old from Manalapan, N.J., died from injuries sustained two days earlier when she was hit by a car in a crosswalk on North Eagleville Road, driven by a St. Bonaventure student visiting Storrs. The driver, Anthony Alvino, 18 at the time, of Lindenhurst, N.Y., his two college friends and one UConn student had been drinking alcohol in a UConn dorm. Alvino, who fled the scene before turning himself in to UConn police nearly a month later, is currently serving 37 months for a number of motor-vehicle and alcohol-related convictions. Others involved in the evening’s activities that led to Wines’ death received various rehabilitation and probation sentences for their parts in securing and distributing alcohol and urging Alvino to leave the scene. But to students who’ve entered UConn since then, “the death of Carlee Wines is ancient history,” Saddlemire says. “It will be seen as a historical event to the freshman class.”
Next came the death of football player Jasper Howard, who was stabbed in October 2009, during a melée outside the Student Union building after a dance. In January 2011, John W. Lomax III, 22, of Bloomfield, who is not a student, pled no contest to first-degree manslaughter and faces up to 20 years in prison. Another Bloomfield man, Hakim Muhammad, charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and intimidating a witness, is awaiting trial.
In the Karzoun case of last year, the trial of Edi Rapo, a 19-year-old East Hartford man arrested on charges of second-degree manslaughter and forgery for carrying a fake ID, was to begin in late February. At the time of the incident, Rapo was a student at Manchester Community College. It is alleged that early on the morning April 23, 2010, Rapo punched Karzoun, who fell to the ground and hit his head on a brick walkway.
He died nine days later at Hartford Hospital. In January, a lawyer representing the Karzoun family filed notice of intent to sue the university of failing to protect him during Spring Weekend, claiming that although university police were aware of problems associated with it, they took no action to curb or end it though they knew it would be attended by a large number of outsiders.
The deaths deeply shook the campus community, including then university President Michael Hogan. One of his last acts before accepting the position of president of the University of Illinois last May was to establish the task force that has now called for a moratorium on this year’s Spring Weekend.