Unofficial Q&A: What you need to know
March 5, 2020
St. Patrick’s Unofficial weekend will take place once again on campus. Here are some quick facts on what to expect for this green series of events.
Q: What is Unofficial?
A: According to “Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day: The Official Story,” an article in the University of Illinois Archive, Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day started in the spring of 1995 by local bar owners in the Campustown area.
“Each year, on a Friday a week or two in advance of the University’s Spring Break, it is estimated that thousands of young adult revelers take part in the celebration of Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day in Urbana-Champaign,” wrote Rory Grennan in the article.
Q: Where do people purchase Unofficial merchandise?
A: Amanda Rivera, junior in LAS and AHS, said stores promote Unofficial merchandise weeks in advance to let students know about Unofficial.
“The only place that has good sales is Te Shurt; that is because that’s the closest thing to campus, and it catches your eye,” Rivera said. “They usually have ‘buy one and get one’ or ‘buy two, get one’ (sales). They also keep up to date with the designs of the shirts.”
However, Cindy Martinez, senior in LAS, said she remembers a popular Facebook group would sell Unofficial merchandise.
“With my group of friends, we usually make our own shirts, and we all match, or I honestly just go to a Walmart and try to find a green shirt,” Martinez said.
Q: What are the police doing to regulate Unofficial activities?
A: Patrick Wade, communications director for the University of Illinois Police Department, said previous actions UIPD has done to decrease accidents are patrolling the community, such as looking for individuals who aren’t properly functioning to observing balconies that are overcrowded.
“It’s not that (police) are looking out for people who are drinking underage, I think it’s just (that) they are looking for people who have so much to drink where they can no longer care for themselves or are causing problems with other people,” Wade said.
Wade said he suggests students take care of themselves. He said he does not mind if students want to enjoy their free time but advises them to be rational with their actions.
Q: What do professors think about students who arrive to class intoxicated?
A: Since Unofficial starts on a Friday, classes are still in session, and the possibility of students arriving intoxicated to their classes are likely.
Lisa Travis, senior lecturer in LAS, said she has not experienced a student who arrived in one of her classes drunk. Travis said she thinks professors don’t fix their schedules at all for Unofficial.
“Why would they come if they are going to be drunk?” Travis said. “I would prefer it if they miss class that day. Most of them do if they’re going to do that.”
Kelly Findley, teaching assistant in LAS, is a new faculty member at the University. Although Findley is not aware of what Unofficial consists of, he said he will call campus police if a student arrives intoxicated and creates a distraction.
“At the end of the day, college students are adults; they have to make their own choices,” Findley said. “In my opinion, I respect adults who make their own choice, and they can come to class, or they can choose not to come to class.”
Q: As its 25th year here on campus, has Unofficial’s popularity decreased?
A: Wade said Unofficial’s popularity has decreased as a result of the University’s efforts in creating restrictions during the event.
“I think the other part of it is students have gotten the message that the troubling things we’ve seen from Unofficial in the past are things that put people at risk,” Wade said. “I think our campus community has put that at heart.”