Veishea Task Force meets for first discussion, reviews public input

Bill Dyke

The Veishea Task Force met May 15 and reviewed the student code of conduct, charges against students for their participation in the 2014 Veishea riot and the open forums.

Craig Anderson, distinguished professor of psychology, was the guest speaker at May 15’s meeting. A member of the 2004 Veishea Task Force, he reviewed “The Three Veishea Traditions”: The “official Veishea traditions” according to the 1992 task force, the unofficial traditions — parties — and the Veishea riots.

The 1992 Task Force’s survey found that there was substantially larger participation in the unofficial events compared to the official events.

“[There is] this new tradition,” Anderson said. “This idea that Veishea is essentially an occasion to riot.”

Anderson provided several psychological reasons for the disturbances during Veishea. These included reactance, the general effects of alcohol and crowd effects”.

Anderson said in this case, reactance was the result of people being told they are not allowed to do something.” Anderson suggested that enforcing strict curfews, orders to disperse and other law enforcement actions could result in this behavior.

Anderson said that based on data from the 2004 task force and most likely from 2014, student participation in the official Veishea events was “quite small.”

“Even though students want Veishea to continue, they aren’t terribly involved in it,” Anderson said. “On one level I understand that, but I think a greater proportion need to be involved.”

Anderson said if there is to be a cultural change, students have to get involved socially and through media, which he said will take time. He also said that the condemnation of the rioters and the volunteering of videos and photos from the riot is showing some signs of a cultural switch.

Sara Cady, College Creek Neighborhood Association’s representative to the task force, said she was not sure if clear punishment of violators would set a lasting precedent.

Warren Madden, senior vice president for business and finance, brought up a frequent suggestion from the open forums that Veishea’s name should be changed.

Anderson said that students would be smart enough to know that a different spring celebration would simply translate into Veishea. 

“Maybe we can hold several similar events that involve student leadership opportunities to raise money for their student groups,” Anderson said. “That probably has a better chance of reducing … future outbursts or riots than continuing Veishea or just changing the name.”

Paul Tanaka, university counsel, said that looking into past task forces and Veishea disturbances has shown that many alumni have taken a warped sense of pride in the riots between T-shirts that read “Veishea: It’s a Riot!” and comments such as, “You kids don’t know how to riot; we knew how to riot.”

Tom Hill, senior vice president of student affairs, and Nick Morton, 2014 Veishea co-chairman, said that there had been reports and comments about drinking in class and in the library throughout the week, suggesting that the overwhelming drinking culture was no long confined to the evenings or weekends.

The task force agreed that the sentiments from the open forums were similar overall, suggesting that the riots were neither a community nor a Veishea issue but rather a problem with students’ actions.

The group also considered different methods of data collection to be done, such as tax revenue during the month of April, weather information and media coverage of Veishea from 2006 to 2014.

For more information or to view the open forums and task force meetings online, you can visit or contact the group directly at [email protected]. All meetings are open to the public and last from 6:00 p.m. to approximately 8:00 p.m. every Thursday until June 30 in the Pioneer Room of the Memorial Union.