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Commentary: The Standard's 'Aussie' party an example of why giant parties belong in the hands of professionals



Editor’s note: An earlier version of this commentary incorrectly stated that Tucson Police Department officers cordoned off Stone Avenue before gunshots were heard at the Standard Apartments party. The Tucson Police Department did not close Stone Avenue until after gunfire was reported, in order to safely evacuate partygoers. The commentary has been updated to reflect this correction.
Additionally, this article has been updated to reflect clarifications. The reporter attended the party. The security at the party was hired privately, not through off-duty Tucson police officers. Also, police did not release a finalized estimate of attendees until after the article printed.

Student housing complexes are no place for large-scale parties like the one that I attended at the Stone Avenue Standard Apartments on Jan. 26.

Even with a privately hired security force, the complex isn’t meant to host giant crowds of people. On Monday, police said they believe only six event security guards were at the event. Of course, if the small security force had done more than wander around and direct traffic — like setting up pat-down stations, for instance — maybe a gun wouldn’t have gotten past them.

There were conflicting reports of how many gunshots were fired in the parking lot that night, but the party was replete with public drug use, underage drinking, disturbing the peace and assault.

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The group behind the event, a number of Australian exchange students, invited the campus at large via chalk inscriptions on sidewalks and word of mouth, which somehow attracted a giant crowd.

When shots were fired into the air at around midnight, taxpayer dollars went to pay for several Tucson Police Department cruisers and a helicopter to shut the party down.

Police had to cordon off a section of Stone Avenue after gunshots were fired, in order to shift partygoers to an empty parking lot across the street and away from the complex.

“It was only a matter of time [before it got busted],” said Jake Ramirez, a pre-business freshman who attended the party.

Considering the blocked exits, potential fire hazards like indoor smoking and far-exceeded occupancy limit, it’s a wonder the party wasn’t broken up before the gunshots.

Sure, big parties are cool, but it’s not cool that taxpayers had to pay what an 2007 Airborne Law Enforcement Association survey estimates to be a median cost $242 per hour to operate the police helicopter, plus the cost of police time.

TPD has bigger problems to deal with than drunken college kids. Parties this big belong in the hands of professionals who are prepared to provide safety precautions, like pat-downs and a larger venue.

If you want to set up a huge party, you ought to do it the right way, which doesn’t involve inviting the general college population to a single apartment complex on your own.

– Greg Gonzales is a senior in the interdisciplinary studies program. He can be reached at arts@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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