It’s springtime, which means students at the University of Illinois (and all their friends, who come in from campuses all around) are ready to get their drink on. And you know why: It’s Unofficial, people. According to a recent letter from the university provost’s office, the big U “does not support or condone” the “annual business promotion known as Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day (USPD).” But it doesn’t matter who condones it, because the “holiday” marches on. In fact, this year, for the first time ever, Unofficial is a two-day event. This means more drunks in the bars, more puke on the sidewalks, more trips to the hospital (last year ambulances escorted 90 students) — but it also means more money in a lot of cash registers, including the Champaign city coffers.
At a packed city council meeting on Tuesday, Chancellor Richard Herman delivered an urgent plea to do away with the non-holiday. He cited the death of Carolyn Yoon, an Illinois graduate who died at what Herman dubbed, “an occasion that has no meaning other than to soil our campus and lower community standards.” Last year, 176 students were arrested at Unofficial, and according to Herman, that was a 71 percent jump from last year’s statistics.
But, then again, parties throughout the years have been much bigger and rowdier than these Green Street festivities. Ever been to Bourbon Street?