Representatives of USG, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Idealists United, LAVA, the Residence Hall Association, ConnPIRG, Greek Life and many others all took part in this coalition. Working for months with other groups, including the owners of Carriage and Celeron, the mayor of Mansfield, Mansfield’s state representative and even UConn and State Police, they put together a lengthy proposal and submitted it to the UConn administration.The column goes on to describe some pretty sensible reasons as to why this proposal would have been a smart:
The proposal included bringing in food vendors as well as musical performances to Spring Weekend, in order to mitigate the dangers associated with the event. The administration promptly said that they would block any of USG’s funds from going toward the plan. They even went so far as to say that UConn cannot take action in relation to Spring Weekend, as it would be the same as endorsing it.
A main reason that violence breaks out, from throwing glass bottles to destroying property, is because there really is nothing to do at Spring Weekend. You get a bunch of drunk people in a big crowd, and boredom combined with relative anonymity will lead to bad decisions. Providing a focal point for these people, such as a free concert or other kind of show, would give them something to do instead of flipping over cars.Reducing the harms associated with drug use and abuse is something that many people care about. It's our job as SSDPers to reach out to them and make the connection, and determine how we can best work together to achieve common goals. SSDP at UConn is one of our strongest chapters in our network. Eight students from their school were able to secure student group funding to come out to San Francisco for our 11th Annual International Conference in March, they even volunteered several days prior to the conference during their spring break.
To top things off, this plan would not cost the University a dime, and would actually save money. It would do this by decreasing the police forces employed for the weekend, while hiring a group of private security personnel, who are veteran workers of countless music festivals. All police are payed overtime for Spring Weekend, at $86 an hour, adding up to $133,000 for the whole weekend. The private security would be a fraction of the cost, actually saving the University about $40,000.
I can easily see why they are so successful at building strong campus coalitions such as this one. They're honest and sincere activists to the core. And drug policy isn't the only issue they are passionate about. Having SSDP chapter members with diverse backgrounds and interests is the best way to build solid relationships with other student and community groups.
Jason Ortiz, recently elected to our board of directors, has been instrumental in these efforts, as well as Katlin Tyrol, former UConn SSDP president, and Sam Tracy will be leading the chapter as their newly elected president for the 2010-2011 school year.