C-U Law Enforcement, University, Prepare for ‘Unofficial’

March 02, 2016
 
 of I Police Capt. Matt Myrick, Champaign Sgt. Joe Ketchum, and U of I Vice Chancellor Renee Romano discuss "Unofficial" St. Patrick's Day at the Champaign Police Department Wednesday.

U of I Police Capt. Matt Myrick, Champaign Sgt. Joe Ketchum, and U of I Vice Chancellor Renee Romano discuss "Unofficial" St. Patrick's Day at the Champaign Police Department Wednesday.

Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media

Local law enforcement on and near the University of Illinois Urbana campus say they’re doing all they can encourage safe and responsible behavior during Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day.  Friday’s annual event started as a bar promotion in the 1990's.

It’s grown over the years into an unsanctioned campus-wide event that brings out-of-town visitors to bars and private parties in the Campustown area. Police typically make lots of arrests during “Unofficial”, due to binge drinking, underage drinking, and damage to property.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Renee Romano says in the past, the U of I has held its own alcohol-free events in an attempt to discourage students. 

“If we had sort of a big concert or something, we might encourage bad behavior," she said.  "So there are events on campus this weekend, actually.  But when we’ve tried to have anything to distract people away from Unofficial, they’ve not been successful.  Students don’t come.”

Champaign Police Sergeant Joe Ketchum says much of their focus will be on visitors from other college campuses. He says they’re also concerned about high school-age participants --- many of them the younger siblings of U of I students.

Mayors of both Champaign and Urbana have issued emergency orders for “Unofficial”, including bans on keg permits Friday and Saturday, and limited serving hours at bars.  U of I residence halls are banning overnight guests.

Urbana Police will temporarily lower the speed limit on part of Green Street on Friday to accommodate the large number of pedestrians expected for Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day.

Story source: WILL