Spring Jam 2010 to be shortened

This spring’s annual event will also have a stronger police presence in reaction to last year’s riot.

Robert Downs

The University of MinnesotaâÄôs annual Spring Jam celebration will face a number of changes this April, many stemming from community outcry regarding student behavior during Spring Jam 2009, University administrators said. The 2009 celebration culminated in a 500-person off-campus riot that police broke up with tear gas, chemical irritant, riot sticks and marking rounds. Police arrested 12 people, and the incident left the student reputation scarred. This springâÄôs celebration will be shortened from six to three days, Student Activities Adviser Ed Kim said, but will function on roughly the same budget as last year ¬âÄî $52,725. That figure accounts for equipment rental, security and other costs like concert and performer fees, Kim said. Other changes will include an increased police presence starting earlier in the day and a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol-related offenses and loud parties. Spring Jam 2010 also may include a âÄúmajor musical eventâÄù in TCF Bank Stadium and will feature 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú Tum. The uproar of violent celebration last spring caught the University by surprise, Vice Provost of Student Affairs Jerry Rinehart said. âÄúThere will be no surprises this weekend,âÄù he said. A new strategy This springâÄôs shortened Spring Jam, running Thursday, April 22, through Saturday, April 24, may still be a high-profile program. There will be speeches by 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú Tum on Friday and Saturday. The University is partnering with the YMCA to bring in Tum, who is widely recognized as a champion for the rights of indigenous people of Guatemala. Her presence is part of an effort by the University to promote community service and philanthropy, Rinehart said. Hundreds of high school students are expected to come to campus to hear her speak, he said. The University is considering a concert act at TCF Bank Stadium that would âÄúfit the venueâÄù and has already contacted several talent agencies. The large-scale program will be aimed at providing an alternative to alcohol consumption, University Police Chief Greg Hestness said. âÄúYou need to blow off steam somehow but in a non-abusive way,âÄù Hestness said. âÄúThatâÄôs what Spring Jam should do. It shouldnâÄôt be a spark for misconduct.âÄù To avoid disturbances, University and Minneapolis police will step up enforcement of alcohol-related offenses and will operate similar to the âÄúenhanced policing patrolsâÄù followed for football games. There will be at least 12 officers on duty, half of them Minneapolis police and half from the University, Hestness said. Officer patrols will begin mid-afternoon âÄî last year they began in the evening âÄî and will focus on watching for intoxicated students and loud parties, University Police Lt. Troy Buhta said. âÄúThere will be party patrol on Spring Jam weekend,âÄù Rinehart said, referring to The Minnesota Daily headline âÄúNo Party Patrol for Spring Jam,âÄù which ran the week before Spring Jam 2009. âÄúRinehart and other University administrators have said in previous interviews with the Daily that the headline contributed to the 2009 Spring Jam riot. The University sent âÄúgeneral letters of warningâÄù to 30 students identified as rioters last year, but only six of those received formal punishment by the University, Rinehart said. Five students are on behavioral probation as a result and must serve community service, and one student received a formal warning letter. Some people have criticized police and the University for not setting an example with students identified as rioters last year. âÄúIt doesnâÄôt sound like very many students that were involved had any kind of follow-up in terms of taking responsibility,âÄù Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association Director Melissa Bean said. âÄúIâÄôm hoping things will change for the better next year.âÄù The University didnâÄôt have enough evidence to more severely punish students for the riot, Rinehart said. âÄúWe didnâÄôt have the information to say âÄòthese are the smoking guns, and these students deserve to be suspended from the University,âÄôâÄù he said. A look back Six months after the fires were extinguished and the broken glass was swept from the 1400 block of Seventh Street Southeast, student behavior during Spring Jam 2009 is still fresh in the minds of residents in the Marcy-Holmes and Southeast Como neighborhoods. The Spring Jam Riot occurred Saturday, April 25. More than 500 college-age people gathered on Seventh Street Southeast and lit fires, tore down street signs and attempted to flip cars. âÄúLike the hockey riot in 2003, Spring Jam wasnâÄôt a sanctioned University event,âÄù Hestness said. âÄúIt became whatâÄôs known as celebratory rioting, sort of a mob mentality fueled by excessive drinking.âÄù Along with an increased level of alcohol-related crime in University neighborhoods this fall, the student reputation between residents in University neighborhoods has been hurt, Bean said. âÄú[The riot] happened during the Minneapolis Home Tour,âÄù Bean said. âÄúIt was an embarrassment to us, and we hope that things will change and policies will be put in place.âÄù This semester, University and Minneapolis police have dealt with an inordinate amount of irresponsible student behavior. There have been increases in fights, alcohol-related crime and loud parties in the Marcy-Holmes and Southeast Como neighborhoods, Hestness said. âÄúA quarter of the population turns over here every year and culture changes a little bit,âÄù Hestness said. âÄú[Irresponsible behavior] is some aspect of the culture now.âÄù Bean said the only way to stop this behavior is to make examples of students that are breaking the law. âÄúIâÄôd like to see zero tolerance for any partying. If thereâÄôs unlawful activity I think that zero tolerance is the only way to get the word out,âÄù she said.