Normally the first weekend of March is filled with green shirts and a plethora of visitors from other college campuses across the country, but this year, Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day is not expected to be the same.
“Unofficial doesn’t exist anymore,” said Luke Henry, the general manager of Joe’s Brewery. “It’s nothing like it was ten or so years ago.”
That is exactly what the University of Illinois and the City of Champaign wanted. Safety was the number one priority for the bars and for the city according to Henry.
This small turnout was not caused by the COVID pandemic according to Patrick Wade, the spokesman for the University Police Department. “This is a trend we have seen for several years now. However, we are hoping that our students take the pandemic into account and act accordingly,” said Wade.
He attributed most of the work to end Unofficial to the University, the City of Champaign, and local business owners. “I’ve been very pleased and happy with the university’s and the city’s proactive work with students and local business owners through the years to minimize the negative effects of Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day,” he said.
University Housing doesn’t allow guests in rooms during Unofficial and most of private certified housing has the same policies.
There will be a noticeable police presence on campus this weekend, as these officers will be there primarily to ensure the safety of students.
Many students are choosing to go home this weekend because it is so quiet on campus. “Unofficial used to be a really fun weekend, but due to all the COVID restrictions and lack of people on campus, I figured it would be a good weekend to go home and see my family,” said Tommy Boland, a senior at University of Illinois.
Safety is the number one priority this weekend from the standpoint of the University, the city, and the bars, but there is no opposition to students having fun in a safe way.
“We do not have any opposition to students enjoying their free time, but we all have to work together to make sure that it is done in a way that is safe and respectful of each other, our campus and the law,” said Wade.