President Leath discontinues Veishea, retires name

ISU President Steven Leath announced his decision on the future of Veishea on Aug. 7. He decided to discontinue the celebration and retire the name “Veishea” as a result of events that happened during the 2014 Veishea celebration, including a violent disturbance in Campustown that sent one ISU student to the hospital April 8.

Maddy Arnold

ISU President Steven Leath announced in a press conference Aug. 7 that Veishea will be discontinued and the name will be retired.

Leath said that some traditions that took place during Veishea will probably continue, such as student theater performances. He also said that he will work with groups like Government of the Student Body and Faculty Senate to determine which other previous Veishea events will be continued.

No timeline was set for determining which events will continue or be adapted or when any new events will be created. However, Leath said events like the 100th anniversary of ISU Theatre will be celebrated this school year.

Leath said he has no intention of combining a lot of events at the same time, especially in the spring. Any new events or adopted Veishea events will be more spread out during the school year.

“We still want to be able to showcase the wonderful things we do here in our colleges, but we’re going to take a very thoughtful approach to this as we decide how to move forward to ensure we have the right kind of festivities and that we ensure student safety,” Leath said.

Leath said student safety is his first priority and that because of this, he is “convinced” that canceling Veishea was the right thing to do for Iowa State. This year, one student was seriously injured by a falling light pole during the riot but has since recovered.

“I understand that is very sad and disappointing for most of us to see a 92-year-old tradition come to an end,” Leath said. “And there are going to be some that are upset with this decision, but I’m not going to continue to put students at risk so we can observe what to many has become a weeklong party.”

After the riot in Campustown on April 8, Leath suspended all Veishea activities and appointed a task force to give a recommendation on the future of Veishea. The task force submitted its final report July 11 and recommended an overarching university-wide event but the name Veishea should no longer be used.

Leath said one of the original purposes of Veishea was to provide student leadership opportunities, recruitment opportunities and a chance for the university to connect with Ames and the state of Iowa. Leath said those purposes have been lost in recent years to a party culture.

This year, Leath said here was more than 200 arrests, nearly 250 citations or charges were issued and nine students were suspended. He added that since the first disturbance in 1985, there have been almost a dozen violent incidents and two deaths during Veishea.

“I’ve looked over the past 30 years at events and we’ve seen events surrounding Veishea degrade into what amounts to a weeklong alcohol-fueled party,” Leath said. “The true purpose of the university celebration has been completely overshadowed by this new culture.”

Leath also said consequences for students involved in events like the April 8 riot will be stiffened. He will work with other university leaders to evaluate the student code of conduct and disciplinary regulations. He will also speak with law enforcement and neighborhood leaders to improve security concerns.

Iowa State spends roughly $250,000 on Veishea each year. Leath said that money will be reinvested “in better ways” to help students.

“There are so many wonderful things here at Iowa State,” Leath said. “I don’t want the end of Veishea in any way to diminish all of the other extraordinary things we do here every single day in every college, department and unit on campus. We have much to be proud of.”