Student Government leaders address Vespers event at inaugural ceremony


Nik Heftman

During their farewell and inaugural speeches, former president of the Iowa State student body Cole Staudt and current president Cody West briefly addressed the events that occurred during the Vespers greek awards Sunday night.

“Occurrences such as those at the Vespers ceremony this past weekend serve as a reminder that we still have a tremendous amount of work to do when it comes to issues of diversity and inclusivity on our campus,” West said.

According to statements released by Rachel Ramirez, president of the Multicultural Greek Council (MGC), and Billy Boulden, assistant dean of students and director of Greek Affairs, members of the audience at Vespers booed, mocked and made racial slurs toward individuals representing organizations within MGC and the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) as they accepted their awards at the event.

“I was seated in the balcony of Stephens Auditorium that evening,” Staudt said. “While I have been a member of the greek community for four years, I had never attended Vespers before, so this was my first opportunity to experience it.”

In his speech, Staudt explained that greek chapters within the MGC and NPHC bear unique “calls,” or chants, that members participate in as part of their organization’s tradition.

“I had personally never heard one of these calls before, but once I did, I knew that it must be important to them,” Staudt said. “However, some individuals booed and jeered at these calls and the students participating in them. Those actions are completely unacceptable.”

West said the actions were unacceptable and cannot be tolerated in the Iowa State community.

Staudt went on to say that Vespers was supposed to be a positive event, but it turned out to be “demoralizing,” and it left individuals feeling “unwanted.”

West agreed with Staudt’s assessment of said events, dubbing them “unacceptable.”

“We, as student leaders, need to set the precedent and example for others,” West said. “A precedent where we are accepting and respectful toward others who are different from us and where diversity is a cherished component of what makes Iowa State an amazing place.”

West continued by saying he would work closely with the Student Government Diversity Committee to identify ways that he can “build connections at Iowa State” and bring issues pertaining to diversity “into the light.”

He also said that he will work with the provost to implement U.S. diversity courses that focus on issues related to diversity and inclusion.

Iowa State community members have addressed the events on Facebook. The president of the MGC, and the director of Greek Affairs, released statements regarding the reactions on Monday.