'What we all want to feel is safe, and enjoyable' area leaders work to restore homecoming safety

University and City leaders are coming together to restore ISU's Homecoming's safety, and positive nature.

Posted: Oct. 31, 2018 5:55 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - This year's Homecoming for Indiana State University is being remembered for violence instead of school spirit. Now, university and city leaders are coming together to restore the event's positive nature.

One non-university sanctioned event is the infamous "Walk." It includes many venues for drinking, and tracks from downtown Terre Haute down to ISU Memorial Stadium.

Also along the route, are many businesses. Each year, places like Medusa's Hair Salon watch the Walk unfold. But now area leaders are looking to calm the chaos.

LINK | 'IN OVER 20 YEARS I'VE BEEN ON THE POLICE DEPARTMENT, THIS YEAR WAS THE MOST VIOLENT...'

Neil Ward is the owner of Medusa's Hair Salon in Terre Haute. He's not complaining, but when he stopped by his business during ISU's Homecoming, he was greeted with thumping music.

Ward shares, "It always seems like they're having a good time walking down the street and everything, but I've never really witnessed any kinds of fights personally. But obviously I know that that happens."

Terre Haute Police called this year's celebration the most violent they'd seen in years. That's why City and University leaders are working on a game plan for next year.

ISU President Deborah Curtis says, "In preparation for next year with an intention to have the type of event here in the community that we're all proud of. And what we all want to feel is safe, and enjoyable, and productive for the community and the businesses."

President Curtis says a panel of roughly 40 people came together to discuss this year's issues with safety and more. This includes Mayor Duke Bennett, who hopes that city rules can have a positive impact in 2019.

LINK | 'NO CAP MILITIA' POST-ISU HOMECOMING PARTY SHOOTING COULD BE LINKED TO CRIMINAL ORGANIZATION

Bennett says, "It'll be making sure that our ordinances applies to the events along the way and from a law enforcement perspective that we're staged in the right places and prepared to deal with these things."

If you ask Ward, he's got his own ideas about how to "slow the roll" of the walk.

He suggests, "Make it more of a timed event. Kind of like, 'The Walk is from this time to this time.' If you're not done walking, then you're on your own." Ward also thought about ISU's sanctioned "Tent City" expanding more down Wabash. He thought it would be beneficial to add tents that offered water, places to rest, or food. He even suggested allowing food trucks to set up along the route.

LINK | INDIANA STATE UNIVERSITY MAKES A LIST OF MOST DANGEROUS COLLEGE CAMPUSES IN U.S.

But again, ISU and the City are working on ideas of their own. President Curtis says on behalf of the university, the amount of available alcohol for people to consume is a challenge. The President says in this year's case, it created some extra activity that's not been seen before. She says ISU is looking to take this challenge head-on.

Curtis shares, "It was almost this second wave that came in after folks had gone into the game. We have to talk about how long these kinds of opportunities are available. And for us, Tent City, we have to think about, ‘How do we revise Tent City in such a way that there's a clear end’?"

Mayor Bennett adds, "It was that "second wave." That's what was different about this, we've not had that in the past. So we kind of need to get to the bottom of that is really the thing. Is to figure out how that happened, and why it happened the way it did, and to just make sure we have the resources in the right places to deal with these things."

President Curtis says talks on how to have a safer Homecoming in 2019 will continue until the event itself.

She says one idea that's already on the table is to give students alternative Homecoming activity options between the parade, and activities at Tent City. 

Curtis adds that at this point, officials aren’t sure who is making up this “second wave,” whether it’s ISU students or others coming to celebrate. Authorities are still investigating that at this time.

President Curtis says there's also a student research initiative that's diving into issues the came up during this year's homecoming. The university plans to reach out to other colleges for insight. Officials say that's because the violence that happened this year during ISU festivities isn't an isolated event.

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