Committee Votes to Change Future of VEISHEA Celebration at Iowa State

veisheaAMES, Iowa – Changes are needed in the way Iowa State University’s annual spring celebration called VEISHEA is run, a task force has decided. But what those changes entail has not been decided.

According to the Des Moines Register, on Thursday 16 members of the VEISHEA Task Force voted unanimously to discontinue VEISHEA in its current form.

And while the task force did not decide on specific changes, it did discuss eliminating VEISHEA’s name, spreading events throughout the year and holding an overarching university-wide event that could occur at a different time, task force data show.

“We felt it was necessary to make, I dare say, significant changes in VEISHEA,” said Micheal Owen, professor of agronomy and a task force member.

VEISHEA is a 92-year-old spring celebration that in recent years has been plagued by unruly behavior. This year’s event was suspended after an overnight riot caused thousands of dollars of property damage and sent one student to the hospital with a serious head injury.

ISU President Steven Leath appointed a task force in April to make a recommendation about the future of the event.

Tom Hall, senior vice president for student affairs and chair of the task force, could not be reached.

The task force reviewed data and held public forums before reaching its decision. One thing the group looked at was the ISU’s Department of Public Safety’s costs associated with Veishea. This year, the department had $35,620 in such costs. In previous years, the costs ranged from $17,496 in 2007 to $35,893 in 2013, data provided the task force shows.

Owen said he voted in support of changing VEISHEA’s current form, due to the data. Though he attended his first Veishea in 1953 and appreciates the history of the event, he said the Ames and ISU communities have changed over the years and Veishea should change with it.

“The one thing we are trying to do in this task force is not to think so much with our heart, but more with our head and to really look at the data objectively,” Owen said.

Hillary Kletscher, ISU student body president, said she heard feedback that students want to remain involved with Veishea.

“The student body, for the most part, had the majority opinion to keep Veishea, revamp it, and that is what I’ll support moving forward in the discussion,” Kletscher said.

Individual members of the committee will submit their ideas on how Veishea should look. The next meeting will be from 4 to 6 p.m. June 12 in the Pioneer Room in Memorial Union.

The committee will make a recommendation on VEISHEA changes to Leath and his executive team. They will make the final decision.

11 comments

  • Just a mom

    Why would the student body have any say anymore? They are the ones who can’t control themselves without destroying things. All it has become for them is a drunkfest. Let the committee figure things out and hopefully celebrations can still happen.

    • Stephanie Hamell

      Agreed, this could be a great family celebration and time to honor ISU…ruined by a small number of people.

    • Wesley Hamstreet

      VEISHA does not allow alcohol or people under the influence to participate in VEISHA activities. The drinking that occurred, occurred off campus during the evening – when there were no VEISHA activities occurring. It began after police disbanded several neighborhood parties and BBQ’s. The Ames police instructed people interested in partying to move their groups to the Welch Avenue bar district. The result was a 2 hour convergence of approximately 2000 out of town visitors. Those visitors then mixed with the several hundred students already in the Welch Ave area. As the bars were already near capacity, this left thousands stuck outside in the street. The Ames PD did not assign officers to the area as a deterrent presence, they waited for things to get out of control first. Most people were simply stuck in a crowd that was too dense to move out of, similar to a concert front stage area.

  • Mike

    The author couldn’t reach the senior vice president for student affairs because his name is Thomas Hill NOT Tom Hall. And I should probably use the word data here as it was used so frivolously in the article. Data.

  • Ishmale Whale

    VEISHEA is reported on it’s web site to be alcohol free. Obviously that is not the case, or they are unable to prevent people from participating drunk or bringing in alcohol. When you have a large number of people together who have been drinking, something bad always happens. I was at a bar in Fort Dodge holding a benefit for someone with cancer. Before 2PM in the afternoon a fight broke out, and the idiots weren’t even drunk, just plain DUMB! That is why I despise large crowds. A few dumb people can cause a chain reaction and cause a riot.

    • Wesley Hamstreet

      VEISHA does not allow alcohol or people under the influence to participate in VEISHA activities. The drinking that occurred, occurred off campus during the evening – when there were no VEISHA activities occurring. It began after police disbanded several neighborhood parties and BBQ’s. The Ames police instructed people interested in partying to move their groups to the Welch Avenue bar district. The result was a 2 hour convergence of approximately 2000 out of town visitors. Those visitors then mixed with the several hundred students already in the Welch Ave area. As the bars were already near capacity, this left thousands stuck outside in the street. The Ames PD did not assign officers to the area as a deterrent presence, they waited for things to get out of control first. Most people were simply stuck in a crowd that was too dense to move out of, similar to a concert front stage area.

  • Ishmale Whale

    OK, if the drinking and problems happen after VEISHEA events, off campus and not on any university property…there is really nothing the committee or the university can do. Their only real option is not to hold the celebration so not to attract so many people in such a short amount of time.

    • Wesley Hamstreet

      I agree with that statement. The best response is to promote and invest in positive VEISHA events and marketing. Draw people from all socio-economic groups, ages, and education to engage with ISU. As a counter example: ISU does not cancel the basketball or football seasons when a few athletes get in trouble for drinking and driving, using illicit substances, domestic violence, etc. However, one could make the same argument that President Leath made, regarding VEISHA. Leath stated that VEISHA has a cultural problem that promotes drinking and public demonstration problems. That argument, if accepted as valid, can be directed at the culture of ISU’s athletic program, insight of the annual legal problems and NCAA violations reported. ISU chooses to invest in positive marketing and further development of those programs. The same approach can be taken towards VEISHA. Traditionally, VEISHA is student organized and funded. ISU could choose to increase access to resources and equipment for the “Diversity Food Festival”, Organize Bicycle racing event, create “alternative/green” vehicle competition: i.e. pedal cars, solar cars, fly-wheel vehicles, etc., maybe a Quidich match on central campus, etc. Create and invest in positive, healthy, engaging events that draw people into participation/observation. The current decision is the type of decision that children make: “they broke my toy, so I’ll break their friend’s toy!”.

      • Ishmale Whale

        When I went to college in the 1980’s, the college culture was maintain passing grades, but also to party and drink. When I was college age, I thought I was invincible and could do anything. The young today are the same. The majority won’t buy health insurance because they are healthy, when it is time to party after busting their butts of with school work, they party hard. I am looking at it as a 45 year old with fond memories when I was young. I drank, smoked pot, did what young people did… If I was in my 20’s…I think I would party with them and be part of the problem. Any event that brings thousands people together will have issues. There are riots after sporting events, the events increase security, but the problems after the fast still continue. This is not exactly the national Boy Scout Jubilee.

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