University community commits to student safety


Brian Bauer

Students exit Kam’s during Unofficial on Mar. 3, 2017.

By Jiejie Wang, Staff Writer

University housing is increasing the number of shifts for its staff and forbidding guests to enter the residence halls or dining centers for four days to keep students safe on Unofficial St. Patrick’s day.

Tracy Cunningham, assistant director for hall supervision and staff for residential life, said they establish extra residence hall supervision from 10 a.m. on Unofficial, until 2 a.m. the next day.

“Regularly, we usually don’t have (supervising) rounds on Friday that have that kind of presence in the halls,” Cunningham said. “Unofficial is really a glorification of alcohol abuse, and we are here because we want our students to be safe.”

Guests aren’t allowed to stay in the residence halls from 5 p.m. Thursday to 8 a.m. Sunday. This special protocol is a suggestion made by the University a decade ago.

Cunningham is the representative of University Housing in the Unofficial Safety Planning committee, which was initiated by the vice chancellor and the chancellor’s offices.

Cunningham said the committee comes together because there is a real concern for student safety and their well-being on Unofficial. It’s an effort to bring different agencies together so they can try to educate, prevent and create safety measures.

There are around 20 representatives within the committee from both inside and outside of the University, such as the Counseling Center, the chancellor and dean of students’ offices, the vice chancellor for student affairs, and the police departments of Champaign, Urbana and the University.

“The biggest thing is that we want the students to be safe and make sure it’s a safe environment for students,” Cunningham said. “Hopefully, one day we won’t have to have the committee because this won’t be a thing.”

Chelsea Hamilton, senior assistant director for communications and marketing for University Housing, said they are also working to share information from the University Police Department about safety and how students can watch out for one another.

Hamilton said the key is to keep it moderate, make a plan, eat and drink water, pace yourself and look out for one another.

“During Unofficial, for the security of our buildings, there are going to be additional housing staff as well as additional University police,” Hamilton said. “Our job is really to make sure that our residents are safe and that is something that we really are pride ourselves.”

Hamilton said everybody on campus should carry their i-card with them during the weekend of Unofficial.

“That is very important because during those four days, the only people who are going to be allowed inside of the residence halls, as well as the dining centers, are current University students,” Hamilton said.

Jessica Varela, senior in AHS, said she plans to go to some parties with her friends on Unofficial.

“It’s unfortunate that students get hurt because of drinking alcohol,” Varela said. “But (it’s important to be) careful and to be mindful.”

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