Unofficial ‘holiday’ continues despite restrictions

By Patrick Wade

When Erika Polacek and Elyssa Pavone, both freshmen in LAS, celebrated their first Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day this year, they did not tone down their festivities in the midst of new restrictions and policies put into action by Urbana and Champaign city councils, police and the University.

“(The restrictions) didn’t affect me whatsoever,” Polacek said. “I saw one motorcycle cop driving, and he was the only one I had interaction with. He just honked at me.”

The two cities, police departments and the University all attempted to prevent students from celebrating Unofficial this year by restricting alcohol sales, increasing police presence on campus and threatening possible expulsion if students disrupted class. Some students felt the effects of the tight restrictions, while others went about celebrating the “holiday” as if the restrictions had not been in effect.

“I think they were just bluffing to scare the students,” said Jeff Davis, freshman in LAS. “I know my dorm said that they were going to have cops on patrol and whatnot, but nothing really happened.”

Davis said that the threat of police in residence halls did deter some students from over-indulging.

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“It worked because a lot of kids were really careful,” Davis said.

Neal Shipton, senior in FAA, said University threats against students disrupting class seemed to work in his classes.

“My classes are all so small that anybody who had the temerity to come in (intoxicated) would really have been screwed over by our teachers,” Shipton said. He added that he also knows some freshmen who chose not to go to the bars in fear of being ticketed.

Unofficial festivities did not go completely without trouble, however. Lt. Holly Nearing of Champaign police said that at least 105 notices to appear in court were issued, and she expects this number to increase as officers finish their final reports over the weekend. Many of the notices to appear in court were issued to visitors to the University.

Nearing said that later in the evening, police received numerous calls for fights, batteries and disorderly subjects.

Nearing added that there was less pedestrian traffic than last year, probably due to the weather, and less people walking with open containers of alcohol.

“People contacted by the police were very cooperative, especially during the day and evening,” Nearing said.

Shipton, who celebrated his fourth Unofficial this year, said that he did not notice any significant difference between this year’s Unofficial and past Unofficials.

“Same old, same old, really,” he said.