Letters for January 30, 2008 

Readers Sound Off on High School Parties

"Party 2 Nite. R U Going?" Feature, 1/2

Editor's Note

Our cover story on Berkeley High School parties in the age of text messaging and Facebook prompted more than one hundred online comments. Some of these letters originated as comments of that type.

Fire Rachel Swan

I was victimized by Rachel Swan, who published false information about me. She published at least four false things about me, and others in the article. She put details in the paper that are false, and including things that I never said, as well as things that she agreed she would not. She is a liar who poses a great threat to everyone. As a victim, I would like your board of representatives to please have a hearing in regards to letting Rachel Swan go from your staff. It is a very foolish and unsafe mistake to have someone on your team who creates violence, and bigger problems in the communities. She is creating issues that do not need to be occurring. She is unsafe to your company as a whole, and it would be a good thing for everyone if she was "let go."

I would appreciate if your board could get a hearing to fire Rachel Swan. Please consider my offer. Thank you very much.

"Max," Berkeley

Fire These Kids

Where do these kids think they are going with behavior like this? I don't agree with some of the posters who think that we as a society are simply going to let these kids escalate in their criminal behavior until they burn down our town. For the time being, they might get away with stealing things from houses where they arrive uninvited, or getting into "fights" which because of the context and the participant's ages are made to look more innocent than they are, or because an existing criminal justice system is burdened with just this type of juvenile crime. However, time will soon come when these kids have to deal with the real world. They'll graduate high school, perhaps graduate college, and then have to support themselves. I have to tell you, that whereas your dear old parents might have turned a blind eye, employers don't take it lightly when their employees steal another employee's iPod or the company's computer, embezzle funds, harass co-workers, pick fights, or in any other way demonstrate a poor attitude or tendency to criminal behavior. If you haven't spent your teen years becoming a mature and responsible person, you'll have precious little time to do that when it's time to support yourselves. If you aren't ready when the time comes, perhaps we'll see you coming down our street with a shopping cart, collecting recyclables from our trash cans, because you aren't fit to do responsible work among decent people. Or maybe you'll be breaking into our cars and houses or robbing us or selling drugs: and if you escalate your criminality in that way, it's only a matter of time before you end up spending your life behind bars. Then you might finally get it that life isn't a video game and you made the wrong choices.

Kristen Cochran, Piedmont

Not As Bad As You Said

I love how you wrote all the negative aspects of these parties. I know "Max" and many of the other kids in this article and I have to say that you vastly exaggerated many of the parties. Honestly, I was at MLK and Derby and it was not as bad as you described it. Maybe you need to get a dose of diversity and see that not all African Americans are going to jump you. I suggest you document the positive aspects, because you are giving BHS a really bad name by publishing a biased article like this. So you are presenting an image of Berkeley High by saying that we are basically a bunch of robbers and inconsiderate kids. That's a load of garbage. I don't think people are going to take this article lightly, honestly I think you got a whole bunch of kids "fucked up."

Jacob Horn, Berkeley

Worse Than You Said

As a graduate of Berkeley High in '04 who was very active in the party scene, I have first-hand experience with these kind of events. This article portrays a very tame depiction of parties that are "blown-up" (slang we used to describe a party consisting of mostly uninvited guests). Now that I'm almost out of college, I can assure you that these "blown-up" parties continue, and can be even more out of control with the "higher-educated" students. As annonymous jan-2-2008 stated, "Much of their depictions of 'typical' Berkeley High parties were exaggerations. Parties tend to be much safer, as long as kids are smarter and more responsible." This scenario has a variable that is never controllable. Partygoers will do what they want, especially if they're drunk, and especially if they think it's cool. I can give you countless incidents of house parties getting out of control where kids I was very close with were both victims and perpetrators. There were even a few parties I went to where almost all the items in the home were stolen: chairs, a microwave, computers, jewelry, and even stuff from the bathroom. This is typical party behavior. Isolated house parties may be manageable and fun. But parties with an unknown host are almost always like this.

Kevin Tharp, Santa Cruz

It's Just a Few Kids

The sensationalistic reporting in your article about BHS simply related the obvious exploits of a few kids who got in trouble. Many issues were left unexplored in order to focus on the tawdry details, most of which are more than a year old: What is the social scene like at BHS for most kids? Can kids have gatherings without fights, thefts or police? Who are the kids causing the problems? What is our city doing to provide healthy outlets for our young people?

We all know teens can get in trouble and are connected like never before. However, exploring the implications and causes of the changes in our society are what the East Bay Express should be doing — not making your paper into a pulp magazine exploiting our fears and prejudices with the "Party 2 Nite" story and the Apprehension column.

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