Crews were at work today trying to clean up the ransacked University of Connecticut campus in time for Sunday's graduation exercises.
The campus was left strewn with burned books, broken glass, smashed furniture, rotting garbage and other debris after students went on an end-of-semester rampage, officials said.
Traditional spring celebrations erupted this week into a spate of rowdyism capped by a series of bonfires students lit to burn their books.
"I've never seen it this bad in my life," said I. E. Tulin, the school's assistant housing director.
Work crews began cleaning up the square-mile campus Wednesday. But officials said they were uncertain the job could be finished before Sunday's ceremonies, when thousands of parents and visitors will arrive.
The student celebrating hit its peak Monday and Tuesday evenings, campus officials said, as the end of final examinations brought on a wave of carousing.
Streams of toilet paper fluttered in the breeze in dormitory areas. Especially hard-hit was the South Campus area, where the ground was carpeted with broken beer and liquor bottles and smashed windows.
Students built huge bonfires to burn textbooks. Dormitory furniture was removed from buildings and smashed. Bicycle racks were overturned and window screens slashed. Books, cinderblocks and trash were thrown from dorm windows and garbage was flung outdoors.
Tulin had no immediate estimate of repair costs, but he said students would be billed for damage to dorms.
At the University of Rhode Island in South Kingstown, one of the fraternities has lost its charter because of alleged "deplorable actions" ranging from rape arrests to a demolition derby.
The URI chapter of Phi Mu Delta was ordered out of its quarters Wednesday by the eight-member National Council, which said it had not paid its dues and gave the national fraternity a bad name.
"I've had a lot of pressure from the university to take action against them and, quite frankly, I'm tired of dealing with the situation," said the fraternity's national president, William H. Myers.
"No guilt has been proven, but enough things have been brought to my attention that there's got to be some truth to the matter," he said.
Four fraternity members have been arrested in the past two months, two for allegedly assaulting a 19-year-old Warwick woman and two more for allegedly raping a 19-year-old URI student when she was visiting the house.
"I understand from URI officials that they had a demolition derby where they demolished a number of cars in the area and there was also a report of a shotgun blast through a neighboring fraternity house," Myers said.
In January the chapter finished serving a two-year suspension.
The fraternity's alumni group, which owns the house, ordered the 30 boarders out. The students at first refused to leave, but later agreed, although it was uncertain when they would move out.
A spokesman for the residents, Stephen M. Cirella, a past president of the URI chapter, said the board overreacted to what was nothing more than "general fraternity baloney."