Senate discusses Unoficial

By Dan Petrella

Hitting the bars to drink green beer before going to class on a Friday in March might soon be a thing of the past.

A resolution that calls for the elimination of Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day was introduced at Monday’s Urbana-Champaign Senate meeting.

“Normally, of course, the University has no real interest in regulating the private lives of students or regulating the hours the students keep . but at a point where the activities disrupt the academic mission, that’s when the University needs to step in,” said Business Faculty Senator Mark Roszkowski, the resolution’s sponsor.

The annual bar promotion has become an increasing concern for faculty and administrators at the University as it grows and attracts more out-of-town visitors.

During this year’s Unofficial on March 3, police issued more than 100 alcohol-related citations. Severe damage was done to the men’s and women’s bathrooms in Foellinger Auditorium and overhead projectors in Lincoln Hall Theater were vandalized with spray paint.

“We’re becoming a mecca for this kind of activity,” said Chancellor Richard Herman while addressing the senate from the moderator’s lectern. He added that the event is in conflict with the mission of the University and that he supports the resolution to eliminate it.

“The effect of (Unofficial) is to reduce class attendance, induce many instructors to cancel class, disrupt the conduct of classes that are held by the presence of intoxicated students, and increase the incidence of other undesirable behavior, such as assault and vandalism,” according to the resolution.

Faculty members of the senate came forward to share their stories of the disruptive nature of the event, including a student coming to advising appointments while intoxicated.

Student Senate co-President Josh Rohrscheib, graduate student, added an amendment to the resolution calling for a commission including students, faculty and staff to make recommendations to the chancellor to advance the goals of the resolution.

Rohrscheib attempted to add a second amendment saying that “the Chancellor should ensure that the University Police Department continues current law enforcement practices for underage drinking, instead of processing underage drinking in a manner requiring students to lose their drivers license.” This amendment failed.

A motion to close debate passed before any student senators other than Rohrscheib had a chance to make a comment on the resolution. Student Senator Chime Asonye, sophomore in LAS, was next in line to speak on the issue.

After debate ended, a call for quorum was made. For the second week in a row, student senators left the meeting after the call for quorum. This week however, they were counted as they left. There were still not enough senators present to vote on the resolution.

“It really shows the commitment the students have toward making sure at least it’s a fair process when we talk about it,” Student Senate co-President Ryan Ruzic, junior in LAS, said. “We probably can’t stop them from passing this resolution, but we can make damn sure they have a hundred people here when they do it.”

Despite the fact that a vote did not take place, Roszkowski said he feels his efforts were successful.

“(The resolution) is designed to strengthen the chancellor’s hand,” he said. “I think it’s pretty clear that the chancellor is in full support of it . To me it’s already accomplished its purpose and that’s to publicize the issue and to send a strong message to the University that this event is unacceptable and it should stop.”