Is Unofficial really worth the risk?

By Ashley Rayan, Staff Writer

As a wide-eyed freshman, I had long heard stories about the incredible day-drinking festival known as Unofficial. Students live for it, teachers abhor it and the administration is on a mission to get rid of it.

I remember hearing about Unofficial from former UI students, as they described skipping classes in favor of day drinking or simply attending classes while intoxicated. They made it sound thrilling, as though the student body was in on a big joke that the administration had no idea about.

I came to school after winter break prepped with my green knee-high socks and an Unofficial sweatshirt from Te Shurt. I was nervous but excited to be part of what I was sure would be one of the most memorable days of my college experience.

Slowly, my excitement for Unofficial waned. Upperclassmen told me about how they would rather go home for the weekend and sophomores expressed their disdain that bars were 21+ for the weekend. My RA told us about the extensive rules and regulations that were put in place for the event. Unofficial began to seem like a lot less fun.

While asking my friends about their plans for Unofficial weekend, most of them have given me one of two answers: “I’m going home for the weekend” or “I’m staying in — I don’t want a drinking ticket.”

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Following the death of a 23-year-old student during last year’s Unofficial, police officers and University administration have found new ways to fight Unofficial. Guests are not welcome in campus residence halls, Champaign bars up their legal age to 21 rather than 19 and campus police adopt a zero-tolerance policy concerning noise violations throughout the weekend.

Recently, an emergency order was signed that mandated that no bars in Champaign may serve alcohol 6-10 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Also, bars will not be allowed to serve pitchers of beer, wine or spirits from 10 a.m. on March 2 to 2:30 a.m. on March 4. Any establishment that violates this order will be fined $500.

Additionally, the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council have instituted a weekend-long social alcohol ban, with strict punishments for Greek organizations that fail to comply to the rules.

While this campus, to a college student, seems like a safe zone for drinking and partying most of the year, this weekend is an exception.

As I ask about Unofficial traditions on campus, most upperclassmen have told me the same thing: it’s not worth it. Most are opting to go home instead, and make up for it the next weekend. Unless you’re of legal age to drink, Unofficial just seems like more trouble than it’s worth.

Ashley is a freshman in Business.

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