Lack of safety ruins celebration, causes disappointment for Leath


Noah Cary/Iowa State Daily

Police work on trying to control the crowd on Welch Avenue after a large crowd flipped a car over April 8. 

Makayla Tendall

Anxiety, concern and disappointment outlined the faces of speakers and attendees of President Steven Leath’s announcement of the cancellation of Veishea on April 9.

The South Ballroom of the Memorial Union overflowed April 9 with a crowd of curious students, press organizations and ISU and Ames officials.

The crowd gathered to hear Iowa State’s administrative decision on whether official Veishea ceremonies would continue as well as about the condition of an injured student after April 8’s riot in Campustown.

“Today I’m here to express my extreme disappointment over the Campustown instances,” Leath said. “I’m frankly embarrassed for our university and community.”

Leath said the unusual fact that students were rioting on a weekday was “very telling” and led to Leath’s, Ames Police Chief Charles Cychosz and Mayor Ann Campbell’s consensus to end all Veishea ceremonies, including all food and entertainment events.

“It’s Tuesday, folks. And we used to blame some of these issues on the people that came to Ames from out of town,” Leath said. “Well, this time it was us.”

Cychosz said police took a very nonaggressive approach to the riot because they were trying to manage the crowd and did not want to escalate emotions.

“We were prepared to do some things if it had gotten worse or continued for a long amount of time,” Cychosz said. “When the light poles went down, we had to really carefully evaluate what was happening out there. That was a turning point.”

“I think the feedback we’re getting suggests they were good,” Cychosz said about police response.

The incident will be reviewed by the department to determine if the response was appropriate.

A mass of people gathered on Welch and Stanton Avenue in Campustown late April 8. By 11:30 p.m., a car had been flipped on Welch Avenue and Stanton Avenue. Police on the scene kept bystanders on the sidewalks while members of the crowd threw beer bottles, cans and rocks into the streets and on police cars.

The majority of the crowd then moved to Stanton Avenue where chants of “Veishea” and “USA” joined the noise. The crowd then began throwing fire crackers, beer bottles and cans at patrol officers and police cars. Some made contact with both officers and cars.

Police slowly backed the cars out of the way of the crowd to keep the crowd contained but not aggravated, said Ames Police. The crowd then moved onto Lincoln Way while some people jumped on top of cars and climbed trees and street signs on their way back toward Welch Avenue.

On Welch Avenue, rioters ripped out street signs, climbed on top of buildings and took down light poles. One light pole hit a man in the back of the head, leaving him unconscious and bleeding from the head.

Cychosz said police had to gather a team to extract the man who was life-flighted to a hospital in Des Moines where he is in a stable condition in the intensive care unit.

“Unfortunately, the true purpose of Veishea has been overshadowed by too many acts of this nature that jeopardize the safety of students,” Leath said.

All three said that safety of students and the community is the number one priority and the main reason for the cancellation.

“Despite everyone’s best efforts to fix Veishea — move it, retool it, reschedule it, change it — once again, we’re back here doing the same thing President Geoffory and President Jischke did,” Leath said about past riots.

GSB President Hillary Kletscher said she is calling for a rise in responsibility from students during the rest of the week. Kletscher said students need to realize that they can act independently and not get caught up in any excitement.

“I challenge my fellow Cyclones to think about the impact they have on our entire university community and for their future as well. This is really an opportunity for us to have a growing moment, to have a maturity moment and to say, ‘I’m going to be responsible tonight,’” Kletscher said.

Mayor Ann Campbell said she also hopes students have learned from April 8’s incident.

“I would hope that this would be a wake-up call to everyone, that how do you explain to the next mother that there is another life-threatening injury? I think that there is no question the university couldn’t take a chance on another serious injury. Hopefully that is a message that’s gone out to 33,000 people,” Campbell said.

Three people believed to be involved in the riot were arrested by police on charges of disorderly conduct. Geoff Huff, Ames Police commander, said they have received many tips via hotlines and may charge other identified individuals involved in the riot.

“If [students] have a love and appreciation for Veishea going forth, they need to behave,” Leath said about the upcoming days.