Editorial | Enjoy Unofficial with considerations to pandemic

Until the return to post-pandemic normalcy, everyone will simply seek refuge in familiar comforts and traditions to satiate the thirst for routine. 

For Illini, this means the celebration of Unofficial. Just do so safely.

The University’s decision to cancel Spring Break means students will remain on campus during St. Patrick’s Day — something the administration has often tried to avoid — and feeling more burnt out than ever. 

And although students deserve this excuse to celebrate and a reprieve from isolation, they should do so with special considerations to the ongoing pandemic in order to avoid jeopardizing the fragile public health situation. 

Still, students don’t deserve to be admonished for drinking and partying responsibly if they are doing it within their own private “pod” of people. A few close friends celebrating away from the bars may be less than ideal, but it still can be fun and in accordance with state guidelines. Students can still dance and play pong from the comfort of their own apartments. 

If one’s chosen Unofficial pals are off campus or aren’t part of the group of people he or she regularly sees, Zoom is not only a relevant vehicle for celebration but perhaps an inclusive one. One can invite University alumni to virtually celebrate and allow the Illini tradition to transcend state boundaries.

We implore those willing to wait in long bar lines to instead plan something smaller and at home.  The inability to celebrate in large groups is no reason to lose enthusiasm for celebrating, especially as this semester is long and without respite. But there is a responsible and irresponsible way to enjoy this year’s Unofficial.

The University administration may abhor Unofficial, but students deserve more than three Wednesdays and a basic acknowledgment that the social distance guidelines have been demanding and taxing on students’ mental health.

Besides, Unofficial weekend not only denotes an annual Illini custom but also a solemn milestone — one whole calendar year since COVID infiltrated campus and forced the remainder of the Spring semester to be held virtually. It may be a grim anniversary, but with the end in sight, students deserve to toast to having endured the rough year.

Illini, you’ve more than earned an opportunity for socialization and a party. But appreciate the holiday in a manner that fails to exacerbate the pandemic. Just make sure that before you kiss the Irish that you see their Safer Illinois app first.