It was the announcement that Steven Leach, president of Iowa State University, never dreamed of having to make and the announcement students didn’t want to hear.
“It’s with mixed feeling and a heavy heart that I have decided to suspend the remainder of this Viesha.”
But that’s not the worst thing President Leach felt he had to say.
“Today, I’m really here to express my extreme disappointment and sadness over the Campustown incident.”
To words rang in the ears of student, university faculty, and community members who filled the South Ballroom. So many people trying to fit into one room caused the staff to open the partitions, separating the ballrooms, on the second floor of the Memorial Union.
Unlike the students who become visibly upset after the announcement was made, President Leach kept his composure as he delivered his speech of disappointment.
“Frankly, I’m embarrassed for our university, and our community,” he says, “I feel especially sorry for the students who have worked so hard over the past year planning.”
Zach Morton, co-chair of this year’s Viesha festival said the event was just getting started and he thinks those who flipped cars and downed light poles forgot what Viesha was really about.
“At the end of the day, Viesha is here for Iowa State University,” Morton said, “Viesha is for all the students in the room, all the faculty, all the staff…everyone; and that’s the important thing to remember.”
The key word through the whole press conference could be summed up in one word: Safety.
“The consensus of the group was perfectly clear,” says President Leach, “human safety and the safety of our community has to be our number one priority, and we cannot have any more property destroyed or any more instances of this nature.”
That one instance almost cost one student his life after a light pole that was knocked down by students during the riots. He is now recovering in a Des Moines hospital, but his family is asking to keep his identity secret, according to Ames Police Chief Chuck Cychosz.
And then, President Leach said what all students, present and future, were afraid of hearing.
“The likelihood of Viesha, or something like it, continuing in its present form is very, very small.”
All events were suspended last night after 5:00 p.m. The university is now working with organizers and the community to refund and rebuild the university and its reputation.
--By 1230 KFJB Reporter Katherine Fritcke