University suspends Irish Illini

By Bridget Maiellaro

The Irish Illini has been suspended until the first day of the next academic year by the University for promoting drinking through their listserv. The e-mail, which was sent on March 1 and concerned Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day, informed club members when and where they would be meeting, along with information about the discounted prices they would receive on drinks.

“There was a correspondence distributed by the Irish Illini that specifically advertised the availability of alcohol for their members,” said Brooks Moore, director of the Office of Registered Organizations.

The Irish Illini, a Registered Student Organization, encouraged and promoted drinking alcohol by stating that people wearing the Unofficial Irish Illini shirt would receive discounted drinks at The Clybourne, 706 S. Sixth St., and Firehaus, 708 S. Sixth St, thereby breaking the Alcohol Policy Procedures and Guidelines for registered organizations, said Patrick Boyle, president of the Irish Illini.

“The Irish Illini, as a registered organization, distributed information to their members that advertised the availability of alcohol as an exclusive program for members of the Irish Illini,” Moore said. “Student organizations cannot advertise the availability of alcohol and cannot knowingly sponsor, engage or endorse events that substantially abstract from the operations and academic instruction of the University.”

Josh Rohrscheib, co-president of Illinois Student Senate and graduate student, said he does not agree with the University’s actions. He argued, in an e-mail to Ruth McCauley, acting dean of students, that the purpose of buying an Irish Illini t-shirt is so that students can show they are a part of the organization.

McCauley said the selling of Unofficial t-shirts is not the reason the Irish Illini is being suspended.

“If a student organization decides to get t-shirts for a barcrawl . it’s not a violation of the code,” McCauley said. “What might be a violation, specifically, is posting details about availability of alcohol.”

Boyle said he received notification from Moore on March 2, regarding the e-mail sent out on March 1.

“The next thing I know, our e-mail with our listserv had been shut down,” Boyle said. “We couldn’t access anything in our RSO account.”

Boyle said he believes that since the University is trying to crackdown on Unofficial, the Irish Illini is being targeted.

“We figure it’s because we’re a larger group and Irish,” Boyle said.

Moore, however, said the suspension in the Registered Student Organization department has nothing to do with shutting down Unofficial.

“This office has zero involvement with Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day or any community celebration,” he said.

As of right now, the Irish Illini is suspended for this academic year, Boyle said. The group will be unable to access the Registered Student Organization facilities until the next academic year. Boyle said, however, the club is still waiting for the formal letter stating specifics.

“It’s a pretty harsh sentence for a first-time offense,” Boyle said. “They have never come down on our group before.”

Boyle said as a junior, he has spent three years in the Irish Illini and nothing had been said to the group before this incident.

The sentence may also prevent the Irish Illini from participating in Quad Day, he said.

In his e-mail to Dean McCauley, Rohrscheib argued that Moore and Lance Wright, assistant director of the Student Organized Resource Fee, specifically made the one-year suspension last until the first day of classes next fall to prohibit Irish Illini from participating in Quad Day.

Moore said the Irish Illini was given that period of time to focus on the mission and goals of the organization.

“During the fall semester, I will meet with a representative to assess those goals,” he said.

Since the Irish Illini has been unable to use the listserv, it has prohibited them from informing members about the situation. Boyle said he received several e-mails from students asking questions about the rumors circulating campus.

Recently, the club has resorted to Facebook.com as a way to inform members of events. On April 9, the Irish Illini sent information regarding its bar scramble and t-shirt sales for the event to those who are in the Facebook group.

“We’re not really relying on it,” Boyle said. “It’s our last effort to give members a little into what’s going on.”

As of right now, the Irish Illini are in the process of appealing the sanction. However, Boyle said he is unsure of whether there will be a full appeal.