A glance into the past: We’re going to party like it’s…

In the first installment of her deep-dive into the WSS archives, Kamakshee Kuchhal ’24 provides her analysis of a rowdy 2000s party, and the subsequent WSS coverage.

 

“We’re going to party like its…” by Angela Winnike, originally published in the Feb. 25, 2000 issue of WSS 

 

 

On February 5th, 2000, the Iowa City Police Department received an anonymous phone call reporting a party with alcohol use at 911 Duck Creek Dr. Four police officers reported to the site by 8:32 p.m. and a resident of the home gave the police permission to enter the house.

Upon entering, the police officers saw several open containers of alcohol laying around and smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from the garage. The alcohol, which was in the house, was brought by people and not offered by the residents. “Like the cop said, we didn’t go in knowing there was going to be alcohol there,” said Beth Haas ‘00. Thirty-four people at the party were charged with possession of alcohol, which is a $145 fine.

Each individual was not given a Breathalyzer test, but because they were all near the open containers and there was enough alcohol in the house for the 34 people, the police chose to ticket everyone with possession of alcohol. “I wish they had checked everyone individually because there were people there who should have been charged with consumption and there were those of us who shouldn’t have been charged at all. It would have been more fair to those of us who didn’t drink,” stated Haas.

Though nobody was charged with possession of marijuana, the police are still investigating the drug case. “The drug aspect of the case investigation is continuing and all charges are pending,” said Sgt. Bill Campbell. Marijuana is the only drug that police suspect was being used at the party. “Yeah, the rumors about people using hard-core drugs is not true,” said Georgia Trovas ‘00.

Punishment from the school was only for those involved in extracurricular activities. Along with the $145 fine, if the student is involved with an extracurricular activity at West High, they were suspended from the activity for ⅓ of the season due to the Good Conduct Policy.

West High has tried many different ways to decrease the amount of underage drinking. One of the bigger projects is taking part with the University of Iowa in the Stepping Up program. “We directly support it. We’re not connected officially from the standpoint of the activities but we’re invited to participate in activities,” said Principal Jerry Arganbright.

 

Reflections

Reading this article felt like what my seventh grade literacy teacher would call “an internal conflict.” 

You have the students that say they had no idea alcohol, or possibly even drugs, would be present at the party site. There’s even the police, as Trovas recalls, flipping a coin as to whether charges should be for consumption or possession. I must agree; it wasn’t fair for everyone to receive the same penalty, especially not one to be randomized and without investigation. This leads to people being blamed for others’ actions: whether that be bringing the substance to the party or indulging in it.

On the other side, however, as Haas claims, there never would’ve been a party if the winter formal wasn’t canceled. And the police simply entered a house with permission and did what their job called for: making the right decision based on the law. You never truly know what’s going on in someone else’s brain. Based on the same logic, it’s unfair to make a call on what “would’ve never happened,” because something already did happen. All actions have their appropriate consequences, and it’d be unethical to make an exception for some instances and not all.

As far as I know, gatherings like these have been far less frequent as the years go by, especially those with reason for the police to get involved. It almost feels like a fever dream to even think about it in the COVID-19 pandemic, where a gathering with more than two friends is a struggle. Underage drinking is still a large issue in today’s society, but we’ve made it less of the norm compared to what it used to be.

You never know the complete timeline of what happened, and sometimes the accounts of the people that were involved are twisted to fit their understanding.”

— Kamakshee Kuchhal '24

Another part of this old WSS edition that really stood out to me are the full names printed in even larger letters compared to the article itself. The names of the people that were at the party. It’s alphabetical by last name, lists the graduation years, and specifies exactly who was underage. I decided not to include it since it felt like an invasion of privacy to even read it. The sole purpose of it being in the archive was most likely to inform, but I couldn’t help but feel a bit of it was also for “entertainment.” Can you imagine your high school publication broadcasting a regretful decision for people to see for years to come?

Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that the times back then were very different. Whether it be hosting a party like this one or publicly humiliating someone by printing their name in a newspaper, the moral remains the same: you never know the complete timeline of what happened, and sometimes the accounts of the people that were involved are twisted to fit their understanding. It’s the same reason why it’s unfair to judge a story by its cover; especially if you weren’t the one involved in it.