News Local/State

Town-Gown Committee Continues Efforts To Control ‘Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day’


The chair of a committee set up to deal with Unofficial Saint Patrick’s Day at the University of Illinois Urbana campus says he cannot be certain that the death of a student was definitely due to the unsanctioned event. Dean of Students Kenneth Ballom says the very nature of “Unofficial” as a de-centralized, unorganized event makes it hard to be sure that the fatal fall of Jonathan Morales from a Champaign apartment balcony was truly a part of it.

“Although others may associate the unfortunate death of Mr. Morales with “Unofficial,” I don’t want to put that mark on the incident, not knowing the cause,” said Ballom.“ It happened to be on that day. But it’s hard for me to tag it in that way.”

The 23-year-old Morales, a communications major from Franklin Park, Illinois, was pronounced dead Friday night after falling from an apartment balcony on John Street near campus in Champaign.

Ballom says his committee is made up of officials with police and other first-responder agencies on campus and in Champaign-Urbana, as well as representatives of the campus community, including administration, staff and students.

The committee has devised several approaches for curbing the “Unofficial” celebration over the years. Ballom says those include “identifying, communicating consequences, communicating safe behaviors, such as our Amnesty Policy, to make sure that individuals are reach out to emergency responders, if they should see someone in trouble.”

And Ballom says that before Morales’ death Friday night, this year’s “Unofficial” appeared to be one of the quieter ones.

Funeral arrangements for Morales were pending at Martinez Funeral Home in Chicago. But a page on raising money for his funeral expenses had already reached its $10,000 goal by Monday afternoon.