‘One last hurrah’: 801 day through students’ eyes and city officials


Jacob Rice

Discarded beer cans sit outside of businesses on Lincoln Way on ‘801 day’, Aug. 20, 2022.

Amber Mohmand, Managing Editor of Content and Diversity

One last “hurrah!” of the summer, the chance for students to see all of their friends in one place again and the time to celebrate before school begins. 

The Saturday before classes, known to many students as 801 day, was the first to see increased fines and lower leniency on parking violations. 

It’s when the prohibition on alcohol at fraternities and sororities lifted for Iowa State, and drinking began at 8:01 a.m. Saturday morning. And as 801 day continues to grow in popularity, people across the state look to share the Iowa State tradition. 

But with the popularity comes consequences.  

“Oh, you know, I got caught doing the wrong thing,” Nolan Harss said. “I chucked a beer on the ground. Dude caught me slipping. I was like, ‘Alright, how about rock paper scissors. I win, I don’t get a ticket; you win you give me a ticket,’  but the game rock paper scissors didn’t happen, and I still got a ticket so that’s kind of a lose lose. I lost 200 bucks today, that’s a quarter of my paycheck.”

Harss was one out of town recipient of an 801 day fine, receiving a ticket shortly after a party was broken up on Hunt Street.

“That Saturday before classes began has really gotten out of hand,” Ames Police Chief Geoff Huff told the Daily. “It’s really grown into something that I think is kind of embarrassing, to be honest with you. And I think a lot of it is because it grew beyond an Iowa State kind of thing, to a lot of people coming in from out of town. And that’s what’s created the issues that we’re having now.” 

Last year had one of the largest turnouts for 801 day, as thousands of people gathered in the streets of Campustown. Videos of people jumping off roofs and hundreds of people gathered on front lawns across Ames circulated on social media.

“So we’re not fun haters, right, we all like to have a little bit of fun,” Huff said. “And we also understand, as a young person coming to Ames, to go to Iowa State, you want to have a little bit of fun, and do a little bit of partying, and that’s fine. However, 500 people at a house party is not acceptable.”

Over the summer, the Ames City Council passed an ordinance increasing the penalties over the weekend before classes, including the immediate towing of illegally parked vehicles in the area. 

Fines increased from $100 to $650, a $550 increase, for first-time violations and subsequent offenses from $200 to $855, a $655 increase. The changes also include towing for illegally parked vehicles. 

The increased penalties faced criticism from the Iowa State student body. 

“I think it’s sort of ridiculous,” said Jonah Hillmann, a junior in history. “Yeah, those things are illegal. But at this point, you are just singling out one group of people who actually do a lot for the Ames community.” 

Thirty thousand students contribute to the city’s population and economy, Hillmann said. 

“I know without Iowa State University and the massive amount of students that they have that Ames would not be where it is,” he said. 

The price of the penalty also hurts the students, Hillmann said, as tuition and the cost of living also increases. 

“Most of the times when it does get out of hand, usually [it’s] not students at Iowa State and people who just come to Ames because there’s a big party here, and then they purposely try to mess things up,” Hillmann said. “I just think it’s ridiculous.” 

As 801 day began, the Iowa State Daily shadowed the Ames Police Department as they patrolled through the streets. Reporters from the Daily also surveyed Campustown throughout the day. 

The ride along 

The Ames Police Department just finished its incident command meeting at the Ames Intermodal Facility — their main goal: avoid a riot. It’s all hands on deck: as some officers drive around the street in patrol cars, others bike riding through the neighborhood and a team walking on foot. 

Among those walking on foot is a team of four officers and their sergeant.  The route begins on Chamberlain Street, by the Campustown Kum & Go. They made their way to the first stop: Clocktower Place: as several students watched the officers patrol the area, drinks in hand. 

Some yell at the officers while others merely observe from their balcony. 

“This is considered pretty nice,” said Ames Police Officer Dilok “Dilo” Phanchantraurai. “So we have had polar opposites, all the time — all the time. So we get people spitting [at us] from the balcony, I’ve gotten ice thrown at [me] in the past.” 

As people congregated on their apartment balconies, the sergeant looked to find a master key. They needed one for a couple of reasons; the main is to gain access to the building in case of emergencies. At 8:30 a.m., the officers found the master key and entered the apartment. 

Empty beer cans littered the stairs. One of the officers picked one of them up — it was still cold. 

They took an elevator to the top floor of the building and surveyed each floor, looking to see which apartments had the potential to get out of hand. The top few floors were silent, but as they continued to the fourth floor, muffled music and laughing reverberated through the hallways. 

It’s enough for officers to take note and keep an eye on this area. Students pass by as they make their way downstairs, and one is stopped. 

“Hey, do you have your ID with ya?” 

The student shuffles through their pocket to find it: stuffed between a couple of bills. They give it to the police officer, who looks it over critically and sighs. 

“Stay safe out there,” the officer says as he hands the ID back to the student. 

The reason why the student was stopped? They had an open container in the apartment hallways. 

“He had an open container, and you can’t have an open container [in public],” Sgt. Amber Christian told the Daily. “This [the hallway] is considered public; when you’re within an apartment that’s different but not walking on the hallway.”

The student shuffles through their pocket to find it: stuffed between a couple of bills.
The reason why the student was stopped? They had an open container in the apartment hallways.

So far, the day has been smooth — less illegal parking and fewer houses with large groups of people. The weather plays a role in this, Dilo speculated, as the National Weather Service predicted for it to rain all day Saturday and possibly hail throughout the night. 

But Dilo also said he thinks people understand the expectation this year. 

“Maybe now we did a better job in terms of PR you know, educating people through social media so they understand the expectation better than the year past,” he said. “We also noticed the amount of illegal parking is a lot less.” 

Despite the weather, many students braved the rain and enjoyed their 801 day — including Tommy Lennon. 

“You know, I understand that they have to have some type of disciplinary action for people that go overboard,” Lennon said. “I get that, and it’s got to be under control with all these people. Walking the streets, but also they gotta realize we’re college kids. This is one day a year that we do this. And I think they’re going a little bit overboard with everything.”

Reporting contributed by Jack McClellan