Police and students walk as one to promote ‘Unofficial’ safety

CHAMPAIGN — Students and police spent Wednesday evening knocking on thousands of doors near the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus to deliver important safety information to students about “Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day.”

The event was part of the Champaign Community Coalition‘s “Walk As One” campaign, which in recent years has made an annual stop on campus. Students from campus fraternities and sororities, other student volunteers, university officials and police officers from the U. of I., Champaign and Urbana departments broke off into groups with a goal of knocking on 4,000 doors.

“Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day” will happen on March 6. The activities are not condoned by the university, but has nonetheless become an annual, student-driven event.

In the past, students have been known to wake around dawn and continue drinking alcohol until the early morning hours of the next day. Every year, dozens of people end up in the hospital for alcohol-related issues.

The “Walk As One” event did not encourage students to avoid Unofficial — rather it gave them the tools they need to stay safe if they choose to participate.

“It’s all focused on safety,” said U. of I. Police Deputy Chief Skip Frost. “I think what they need to remember is, first and foremost, know your limits.”

Frost encouraged students to take responsibility for themselves and each other.

“Be responsible, look out for yourself, look out for your friends,” Frost said.

And, importantly, call for help if someone is in danger.

“A lot of people are under the impression that the police are just out there to ruin their good time,” Frost said. “That’s not the case, and it’s never been the case. If you need police assistance, don’t hesitate to call us. Don’t worry that your 19 or 20 and you’ve been drinking. If someone really needs help, we’re never going to punish someone for doing the right thing.”

Area police operate under the university’s Medical Amnesty and Good Samaritan policy, which protects students from legal or disciplinary consequences when they take the appropriate action to help someone who is in danger.