Unofficial is here to stay: Focus on safety, not bans

On Feb. 8, College of Law Professor Francis A. Boyle submitted a letter to Gov. Pat Quinn asking to “suspend every bar and liquor license within the city limits of Champaign for March 2, 2012.”

But rather than allocating resources towards shutting down an annual holiday celebrated by thousands of students and visitors — which would undoubtedly continue even with a ban of some form — resources would be more effective if used to help keep campus and the surrounding community safe come March 2.

Boyle’s reasoning for the suspension included that, “In previous years this event knowingly and deliberately produced, promoted, and instigated at least one death, numerous maimings, many rapes and sexual assaults, widespread physical assaults and batteries, large scale drunken-driving, destruction of public and private property, and multiple disturbances of public order.”

Although Unofficial is regarded positively among many students, it is no doubt a reality that this alcohol-related holiday has been directly responsible for many of the dangerous and horrifying accidents Boyle mentions.

However, given that Unofficial has become a yearly celebration that thousands of people partake in, it is very hard to envision any sort of legal action that could effectively end Unofficial. Such overarching legislation would be too difficult to enforce on a campus this large. And even if such a ban were enacted, University students would likely find a way around it, such as moving the holiday or making their purchases in Urbana.

It is unrealistic to think that such a large holiday, which is similar to many other types of celebrations at other large colleges, could be shut down with this sort of suspension.

Rather than wasting resources trying to shut down a campus tradition that is unlikely to end, it is important to accept the holiday for what it is and mitigate dangers posed to both the campus and the surrounding community.