'Unofficial' around the corner

'Unofficial' around the corner

They came from nine states, 15 cities and 47 colleges, including four other Big Ten universities and the University of Illinois.

And they'll be coming again this Friday for Unofficial St. Patrick's Day.

"We've seen more people on Facebook this year saying they're coming to the event," said Lt. Jim Clark of the Champaign police department.

He wishes they would all just stay away.

"We want it to go away. All of our goals are to put an end to Unofficial."

Not gonna happen. Clark knows that. So as the commander of the police department's South District — campus — he's getting ready for what he knows will happen.

Some young people will be taken to a hospital for alcohol poisoning.

Some will be taken to jail.

And there's the risk of more dangerous outcomes.

"As you know, we've had previous deaths," Clark said. "We definitely do not want that."

Hundreds will be arrested, many for underage drinking. Most of those arrests will happen away from the heart of campus with its concentration of bars. Records show most of the arrests in 2013 were on the west side of campus, closer to Oak Street than to Sixth Street.

"We've cracked down more on bars the last few years," said Clark, including the imposition of rules intended to make it harder for anyone under 21 to drink there.

"I'm not sure underage drinking is ever going away," said Clark.

"It seems like we see (those) under 21 get more intoxicated, more transports to the hospital. Those who are 21 have been there and done that. Binge drinking is more with the young age."

As in the past, the city this year is limiting the hours bars can be open, the amount of package liquor and beer that can be sold in the campus area, the entry age for bars.

Here's a look back at the 2013 Unofficial:

First arrest: 9:50 a.m. March 1, a 22-year-old student at the University of Illinois-Chicago, in the 900 block of South Locust Street, Champaign, for public possession.

Final arrest: 3:16 a.m. March 2, a 21-year-old UI student, in the 400 block of East Green Street, Champaign, for domestic battery.

States: People from the following states were arrested or given notices to appear in court: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Big Ten: Apart from the UI, students from other Big Ten universities included Iowa, Indiana, Northwestern and Michigan State.

Oldest person arrested: A 39-year-old Champaign man was arrested for public possession at 1:13 p.m. March 1 at Fourth and Green Streets.

Most arrests: At 35 E. Chalmers St., C, 69 people were arrested.

4,000: The number of doors police and others knocked on in late February to pass out information about how to avoid trouble during Unofficial.

"Our enforcement effort is to keep everyone safe," said Champaign police spokeswoman Rene Dunn. "The primary focus is to keep everyone safe."

Clark says he knows that information is getting through to some.

"At a party we ended up raiding last year, (the hosts) had the information and they were checking IDs. Unfortunately, one of their guests was letting people in the back door."

Police calls: On the Unofficial weekends in the past five years, there have been 5,990 calls for service in all of Champaign County. Of those, 2,022 — one in three — is for the area bounded by Clark Street, Lincoln Avenue, Pennsylvania Avenue and First Street.

"Our staffing for the rest of the city really doesn't change at all. We're bringing additional officers" to campus, said Clark. State police are "close to half" of the enforcement on campus for that day.

Traveled the farthest: A 21-year-old came 510 miles, from Roseville. Minn., and was arrested at 2 p.m. for throwing dangerous materials.

210 notices to appear in court for city ordinance violation

Dispositions (From Champaign city attorney's office)

165 paid a fine to the city before a court date. Minimum fine was $320.

15 more paid at the city and the case was dismissed.

7 cases dismissed

6 defendants “defaulted” and case satisfied.

6 plea agreements entered, defendants placed on court supervision and terminated satisfactorily

5 defendants defaulted and have not paid; warrants for arrest issued.

3 pleaded guilty and satisfied fine.

1 pleaded guilty and has not paid; warrant for arrest issued.

1 pleaded guilty and is still paying fine.

1 defaulted and is still paying fine.

Other arrests: (From Champaign County state's attorney's office)

General battery: 4. Two pleaded guilty, one dismissed, one not charged.

Possession of drug paraphernalia: 2. Both pleaded guilty.

Minor in possession and resisting a peace officer: 1. Pleaded guilty to minor in possession.

Domestic battery: 1. Dismissed due to uncooperative victim.

Assault: 1. Pleaded guilty.

Possession of controlled substance: 1. Pleaded guilty.

Outstanding warrant: 1. No new offense attached.


News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

EL YATIRI wrote on March 03, 2014 at 12:03 pm
Profile Picture

So basically we are bracing for a crime wave brought in by out of state college thugs.

Local Yocal wrote on March 03, 2014 at 6:03 pm
Profile Picture

"We want it to go away. All of our goals are to put an end to Unofficial. Some young people will be taken to a hospital for alcohol poisoning. Some will be taken to jail. 'As you know, we've had previous deaths,' Clark said."

That settles it then. Charge those in possession of alcohol with felonies, those that sell it with bigger felonies. Class X those felonies for being 1000 feet within a school zone. Seize all the properties, monies and cars of the bar owners. Long prison sentences for those in possession with lots of alcohol, those who host a party, those who sell alcohol, those that manufacture and distribute. Call them Kingpins. If any of these dopers get out of prison, ban them from housing, financial aid, welfare, a job, everything possible and register them as felons with harsher penalties if they re-offend.

Police can then meet their goals. Are we going to have a drug war or not? Alcohol is the third biggest killer of Americans per year (about 90,000) behind,.....what was No. 1 and No. 2 again?...Wait, I'll think of it here in a second,....after I finish my cigarette and fast food meal....




thesimpleman wrote on March 03, 2014 at 8:03 pm

we want it to just go away ?how about the revenue it brings to the town?

210 people cited min fine was $320.00

not a bad week for the city  $67200.00 or are we suppose to belive that it costs the city and state more then that to staff it in overtime?

yes the deaths that have happened in the past is tragic.

if the city really wanted to put a stop to this they would.

Does anyone here remember the mardi gras that use to happen on campus?

fires in the street green street blocked off from third to sixth st. they put a stop to that right.

The taxes generated from resturants,hotels,and bars. Do they want that to go away as well?

as someone who does not support this event it is good for the city on revenue uh


Conspicuous wrote on March 03, 2014 at 10:03 pm
Profile Picture

He wishes they would all just stay away.

"We want it to go away. All of our goals are to put an end to Unofficial."

If you really want it to go away, make it an "Official" city event. Invite the parents to come and spent the weekend with their kids. Close off Green Streen from Wright to 4th, make it a street party that's fun for legal people to go to so there's minimal places for underaged drinkers to party. 

For all the complaining that's been done by Champaign/Urbana/University officials for the last few years, you'd think someone would realize that so long as they complain and fight it there will be no end to Unofficial. Instead, embrace it and make money off it. It won't take long before it becomes something entirely different with the guidance of city officials to push it along.

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 04, 2014 at 3:03 am

Combine the UnOfficial with Moms Weekend.  The moms are going to get stuck doing their kids dirty laundry over Spring Break anyway.  This way they can bond with their kids, and pickup the dirty laundry at the same time.  The city can pickup more revenue at the same time.  ;)

Local Yocal wrote on March 04, 2014 at 1:03 pm
Profile Picture

A helpful film review for Lt. Clark as he works on drug war strategy "to put an end to [underage alcohol drinking parties and bars exploiting youthful alcohol consumption.]"


Bulldogmojo wrote on March 05, 2014 at 9:03 am

There is a big difference between partying and competition drinking to the point you compromise your own safety and those around you.

The NG should report on McKinley health center stats from the weekend regarding, date rape reports, morning after pills prescribed, STD's,  injuries related to fights and drunken accidents.

It's an eye opener..

C-U Townie wrote on March 05, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Even that won't be as eye opening as needed. You have to consider that not all sexual assaults are reported, and similarly not all STDs are diagnosed or emergency contraceptives prescribed... much for the same reason. I could defnitely see someone having to wrangle with the university to get that type of information out, even if it's all completely de-identified. 

This is an event that grew completely out of control after being created by bar owners wanting to capitalize on a campus full of students who want to party. No one put this event in check until we started to see the worst case scenarios becoming reality. Now it's reactive behavior as city officials try to do damage control. This is one of the issues with local government, but definitely not issues that are specific to C-U. 

I agree with the suggestions to make it more of an inclusive event than just one for the students. That would change the climate and take the fun out of it. Eventually one would hope that just as the event escalated to complete chaos it would die down. 

Something should be done, though. It's bad enough that townies avoid campus while students are here. It seems like campus becomes a war zone during Unofficial weekend.