Mayor exercises new emergency powers for Unofficial Saint Patrick’s Day

By Carlos Caceres

This Friday marks the celebration of Unofficial Saint Patrick’s Day. The event is often considered one of the most controversial on campus.

If you show up to class drunk on Unofficial, you may face severe penalties. Recent policy changes by Chancellor Richard Herman make it possible to be dismissed from the University for being disruptive or intoxicated.

Champaign Mayor Gerald Schweighart said from everything he’s been told, the University is going to be very tough on students that show up to class intoxicated.

“The University is gearing up more support for the classrooms and the large lecture halls. If you’re found in violation of this, you could be facing suspension from school for the semester,” Schweighhart said.

Champaign City Council recently passed an ordinance granting Schweighart a new set of emergency powers. According to a statement released today from the Mayor’s office, Champaign bars will not be allowed to open their doors until 11 a.m. Pitchers of beer and undiluted spirits of any kind will be prohibited, and all drinks must be consumed in disposable cups.

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Also, all entrances into bars must be staffed by employees who are at least 21 years of age. Liquor stores “are required to complete Adult Responsibility forms prior to the sale of 168 or more 12 ounce containers or beer or malt beverage and/or 24 or more one liter containers of distilled spirits,” according to a press release.

Additionally, the Mayor will not be granting keg permits during the week of Feb. 26 – March 5, 2007. This means “no individual may possess more than a single keg of beer in keg packaging and no specific address will be allowed to possess more than a single keg in keg packaging,” according to a press release.

Mayor Schweighart said these new measures should help control binge drinking.

“Even the advertisement is drink until you’re Irish, which is an indication to binge drink, to go out and get drunk,” Schweighart said. “And that’s the mind set on this one here, to get totally wasted and that we cannot tolerate, so we’ll be doing different things in an attempt to curtail it. Ultimately if you don’t, you could end up with a total closure of the campus bars on that weekend.”

However, some people, like Ken Pirok, Champaign City councilman, feel these new emergency powers will not accomplish much.

“All it gives us the opportunity to do is change how and where the students drink,” Pirok said. “It doesn’t make any dent at all in how much, or, whether they drink.”

Schweighart said students need to make sure they drink responsibly and at their own risk.

“There are some severe penalties out there,” Schweighart said. “If you want to roll the dice and think you’re not going to get caught then that’s your choice.”

The area of restriction within the city limits will include Springfield Avenue on the north, Wright Street on the east, Kirby Avenue on the south and Locust Street on the west.