Harreld reaches out to Hawkeye Marching Band after Cy-Hawk game incidents

UI President Bruce Harreld visited the Hawkeye Marching Band on Tuesday, apologizing for the alleged mistreatment they suffered at this year’s Cy-Hawk football game and answering any questions they had in regards to it.


Katina Zentz

UI President Bruce Harreld answers a question in the Adler Journalism Building on Monday, Sept. 23, 2019.

Katie Ann McCarver, News Editor

More than a week after the annual Cy-Hawk game, University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld addressed the Hawkeye Marching Band directly on Tuesday following allegations that Iowa State University fans physically harassed some student musicians in Ames Sept. 14.

Amid increasing concern across the state for the future of the Cy-Hawk game after Harreld suggested its discontinuation, and pending concerns about addressing safety issues, this was the first time Harreld met with the Hawkeye Marching Band one-on-one since the harassment reports initially surfaced in the days after the game.

Over a plate of pizza, the band heard from Harreld and Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta, Hawkeye Marching Band member Jaeden Scheller said. The pair apologized for the mistreatment the band reported at Jack Trice Stadium, she said.

“This is a big deal, and they wanted to make sure we were in the loop,” Scheller said. “That reaffirmed, ‘OK, they’re actually doing something, not just giving us false hope.’ ”

Contributed by Rachel Boggs
University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld speaks to members of the Hawkeye Marching Band on the practice field on Tuesday.

Harreld promised the UI is currently devising a plan to prevent a reoccurrence of similar circumstances such as those reported at the Cy-Hawk game, she said.

“If they follow through with what they’re doing, we’re going to feel more confident going anywhere,” Scheller said. “Hopefully, we won’t feel scared going to an away game to perform. We’ll feel protected.”

RELATED: Kim Reynolds says she’s ‘confident’ Iowa’s universities will find Cy-Hawk game solution

Harreld’s meeting with the band began in the late afternoon, she said, and a question-and-answer session between him and the students ran until their time was up.

“We knew at that point they actually cared,” Scheller said. “They were there for us, because they sent the highest person they could.”

Scheller said the band was unsurprised by Harreld’s visit. However, the meeting did seem to force Harreld to adjust his original presidential schedule. 

Initially listed in a meeting agenda as delivering remarks at the UI Student Government and Graduate and Professional Student Government’s joint session, Harreld did not appear at the event in the Old Capitol Senate Chambers on Tuesday. He was no longer listed as a primary speaker for UISG and GPSG’s joint session on Tuesday night.

The UI did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

Hawkeye Marching Band member Rachel Boggs said Harreld answered many of the band’s questions, including a confirmation from Barta that the UI’s investigation into students’ allegations is still open and ongoing. Security officers were present on Tuesday and took additional statements from band members, she said.

“President Harreld was very clear — they’ll do whatever it takes to protect us first,” Boggs said. “I feel like we appreciated that and we’re definitely going to hold them accountable.”

A primary concern among band members, she said, was whether the university would be more vocal in the media — particularly in response to accusations that the band is lying or when blamed for their allegations against ISU fans.

RELATED: Iowa State commits to keeping Cy-Hawk series alive after UI president questions its future

Boggs said she supports the discontinuation of the Cy-Hawk series, and that other band members left the meeting with Harreld on a positive note.

“You don’t know what fans are going to do, and it’s a big rivalry, which doesn’t excuse any of it,” Scheller said. “But we know it happens. It helps us to know in the future that it hopefully won’t happen to the degree it does again.”

In an interview with The Daily Iowan on Monday, Harreld said he will meet with the presidents, security officers, and band and athletic directors of ISU and the University of Northern Iowa in the near future to discuss how to improve safety at games.

“It will be useful dialogue across the country to talk about fan/fan experience, campus safety, [and] band safety,” Harreld said. “[Band members] are wonderful entertainers and they work really hard. I think most of us don’t appreciate how hard they work behind the scenes.”

The time commitment that work requires of the band, Harreld continued, is what makes the reports of physical assault they suffered in Ames so wrong. The upcoming conversation between Iowa state universities will be a learning experience for all, he said.

Despite Harreld’s statement that proper safety measures must be taken before continuing the rivalry game, ISU officials and Gov. Kim Reynolds said they are committed to carrying on the Cy-Hawk tradition.

Nancy Dunkel and Sherry Bates of the state Board of Regents were present at the UISG and GPSG joint session. Asked to comment on the matter, they referred the DI to regent spokesman Josh Lehman, who agreed the universities would find a solution.

“We’re confident that the universities will be able to get together and work this out,” Lehman said. “We want people to feel safe at all of our events.”

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