UNI Homecoming problems remain a thing of the past - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UNI Homecoming problems remain a thing of the past

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

Thousands of University of Northern Iowa students, alumni, and family members are gathering in Cedar Falls this weekend for UNI's homecoming celebration. Police are planning to step up enforcement on College Hill, but nothing like previous years.

The problems of past homecomings are far from the minds of current students -- like Carver Terpstra.

"Gonna go tailgating tomorrow. Got a couple friends coming up, show them a good time," he said of his homecoming plans.

As far as his knowledge of past homecoming traditions?

"I know there used to be a parade. That sounded pretty cool," Terpstra said.

Like many other current students, Terpstra was in preschool when UNI's annual tradition took a dark turn. We told him about the riots on College Hill in 1996. Terpstra hadn't heard of them.

"That's intense!" he said.

Cedar Falls Police Chief Jeff Olson recalled the situation at the time as dangerous, and scary.

"You had a lot of fights, a huge crowd, we just had a lot of problems back then. It was a scary time," he said. "You get that crowd mentality, you throw in a lot of alcohol and it doesn't work out very well."

After that year, police stepped up enforcement on College Hill -- including barricades to prevent crowds from forming on the street. Olson said, it worked. Things in recent years have been much more tame.

Olson credits local business owners, who he met with this week to discuss plans. It's also a credit to students like Terpstra -- who is able to enjoy himself without breaking the law.

"It should be a fun event. No one should be afraid to go down to the Hill and have a good time on homecoming," Olson added.

Homecoming participants will see additional officers on College Hill this weekend. Police will also block off traffic on the "Hill" through Saturday night, turning the street into a pedestrian mall.

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