SIUC to turn green early

By Gus Bode

SIUC has a new reason to party.

Because of a Facebook-based student movement, several Carbondale bars – including Pinch Penny Pub, Sidetracks and Gatsby’s II – are scheduled to open at 10 a.m. Feb. 23 to celebrate “unofficial” Saint Patrick’s Day.

The event is a time when students drink beer – filled with green food coloring – throughout the day and attend class drunk because they are on spring break during the actual Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17, according to an online posting by group administrator and SIUC student Brad Miller.


The unofficial holiday has been a popular but controversial event at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for years. The Urbana-Champaign Senate – a group of students and faculty – passed a resolution condemning the event in April, according to the campus newspaper, the Daily Illini.

UIUC also recently allowed the expulsion of any student who disrupts class while intoxicated, the newspaper reported.

A Facebook group Miller created last month called for Carbondale to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day early. As of Wednesday evening, the group had 2,295 members.

The group’s description recommends students wake up at 7 a.m. and drink green beer all day. It also suggests the students go to class drunk, as was custom at UIUC.

Miller said some UIUC students have expressed anger via Facebook because they feel SIUC is “stealing” their holiday. He said the event has inspired an exchange of insults between students from both schools.

“There’s been a huge controversy,” he said.

Miller, a sophomore from Rantoul studying business management, said the response to the group led him and a group of friends to contact local bars.


James Karayiannis, general manager of Pinch Penny Pub and Copper Dragon, said he was surprised to hear the students wanted to celebrate the event on a weekday.

“I guess that’s some of the novelty,” he said. “It’s the cutting class and being in class and being at the bar before and after and between class.”

Karayiannis said he expects the university would take measures to encourage class attendance Feb. 23.

“I’m sure once the professors and the administration find out about it, they’re going to probably encourage teachers to stiffen their policies and make kids show up on Friday,” he said.

SIUC Police Chief Todd Sigler said the department has made no specific plans for the event.

Sigler said the university has unfairly suffered from similar events in the past.

“I just hope it passes quietly,” he said.

Carbondale City Manager Jeff Doherty first heard of plans for the unofficial holiday in Carbondale when a reporter contacted him Wednesday. He said he knew about past celebrations at UIUC, and wasn’t sure if SIUC students would actually partake in the event.

Jake Downen, a freshman from Freeburg studying business, said he plans to celebrate – but not until after class.

“I’m not going to booze it up before class,” Downen said.

Katelyn Stapleton, a freshman from Edwardsville studying radio-television, said she plans to skip class for the event. She said she is excited about the new holiday, but doesn’t think enough people know about the event to make it a frenzied party or a problem for the university.

“There will be drunk people,” she said. “That’s all I can say.”

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