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Editorial: Unofficial shouldn’t overshadow University student’s death

Jonathan+Morales+passed+away+after+falling+from+a+balcony+at+Maywood+Apartments+in+Champaign+on+Friday.+The+Editorial+Board+believes+students+should+look+past+Unofficial+and+remember+one+of+our+own.
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Editorial: Unofficial shouldn’t overshadow University student’s death

Jonathan Morales passed away after falling from a balcony at Maywood Apartments in Champaign on Friday. The Editorial Board believes students should look past Unofficial and remember one of our own.

Jonathan Morales passed away after falling from a balcony at Maywood Apartments in Champaign on Friday. The Editorial Board believes students should look past Unofficial and remember one of our own.

Elisabeth Neely

Jonathan Morales passed away after falling from a balcony at Maywood Apartments in Champaign on Friday. The Editorial Board believes students should look past Unofficial and remember one of our own.

Elisabeth Neely

Elisabeth Neely

Jonathan Morales passed away after falling from a balcony at Maywood Apartments in Champaign on Friday. The Editorial Board believes students should look past Unofficial and remember one of our own.

We lost a fellow Illini on Friday.

Jonathan Morales passed away after he fell off a balcony. He was a 23-year-old junior studying communications at the University.

The tragedy came on a day of celebration for most University students: Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day. It’s a day that almost always puts fear into administrators’ and parents’ minds, and that fear unfortunately came to fruition.

Before anything else, we hope our fellow students and faculty members will continue to rely upon each other during this time. Many students have already contributed to the GoFundMe page, the Facebook page and other places where people have chosen to remember Morales. It’s easy to see that he had a great impact on not just his friends, but on other people around him as well.

We can all understand how it would feel to lose a treasured friend, and expressing empathy for those who knew him is crucial. Especially when faced with this, students and parents should remember just how strong we are.

The Daily Illini Editorial Board won’t use this tragedy as an excuse to scold or lecture. There are other days for that. But we want to remind our fellow students about the importance of taking care of themselves and others when partaking in an event like Unofficial.

Unofficial brings out some of the best attributes of our student body. The widespread drinking isn’t exactly commendable, but optimism and glee radiate from campus every year during this time. That energy attracts students from other campuses across the country for good reason — it’s a level of fun that’s almost inspiring, especially when the outside world is so contentious.

But when that same happy day ends in tragedy, we’re left asking whether it’s worth supporting a holiday that could potentially end in death.

To us, the answer is unfortunately more difficult to express than a simple yes or no. Every group that cares about the University — parents, administrators, police and the students — will discuss this incident through the lens of a targeted narrative.

Some will condemn the yearly celebration, while others will say that this could have happened at any other school or on any other day. Both sides have valid arguments, and the truth, as always, falls somewhere in the gray area.

There is no clear way to prevent events such as Morales’ death — at least not one that satisfies everyone involved. We won’t call for a cancellation of Unofficial. But we will remind others to remember the importance of celebrating responsibly, whether it’s Unofficial or any weekend night on campus.

Despite emails and letters to parents and students, there’s still that fear that anyone could fall victim to an accident on this day of levity. But Morales was just standing on a balcony with his friends: It’s hard not to think that this could have happened at any moment, and the reaction would have been equally as tragic, but much less motivated.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that Unofficial doesn’t represent our University’s highest achievement. Some may try to reduce our student body to a group of dumb partying students in the wake of the tragedy. But we have so much to offer, both through our compassion and our ambitions. We can use these attributes to help honor Morales and stand with his loved ones.

So remember to be safe, fellow Illini. Hug your friends a little tighter and watch out for them when you go out. Don’t brush off your parents’ and teachers’ concerns, and instead appreciate that they care about what’s best for you.

And for now, keep Morales, his family and his friends in your thoughts.

We lost one of our own Friday.

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