CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- A concert scheduled at the University of Northern Iowa campus Saturday night is drawing a lot of controversy.
Word spread quickly when hip-hop artist Waka Flocka Flame announced a concert at the University of Northern Iowa`s Maucker Union. University President Mark Nook claims public safety issues from local law enforcement in nearby Waterloo spread just as fast. He said he was told, "We've got evidence that gang members are planning to come and they are members from different gangs in our community and a very high probability of having an incident."
A string of controversial changes followed. "The concert was being cut off from the public, students only allowed one ticket instead of two and moved to the field house," said Ryan Frank, a member of the Northern Iowa Student Government.
Nook said cutting off the public from tickets has already helped and allowed the concert to move back to the union on Saturday. "Since we limited ticket sales to only students and a guest, the threat level they were seeing and monitoring decreased significantly," said Nook.
Mahlia Brown, a member of the Northern Iowa Student Government, says many students and parts of the community see it differently. "This is racially motivated. There is racial bias here. Why was this specific concert so heavily watched when other concerts that is not the case?," she said. Brown also points to the perception that most of the public ticket sales would come from Waterloo. "There's that divide because Waterloo is very black dominated and Cedar Falls is very white dominated."
In a letter to students on Friday, Nook apologized for any perceived racial bias. "Whether that was conscious or unconscious, it just contributes to the perpetuation of the implicit bias that is in the community and on campus," said Frank. It is a campus that Nook believes will be made stronger after a conversation he doesn't want anyone to shy away from. "We knew that as we took this on there were going to be not just undertones, clear overtones of issues of race."
Public tickets that were purchased have been refunded. Calls to the Waterloo Police Department were not returned.