Brown: Cancellation unfairly affects wrong students: ISU disregards students’ efforts, drops traditions


Miranda Cantrell/Iowa State Daily

People attempt to clear Welch Avenue after a man was struck by an uprooted light pole during in Campustown during Veishea on April 8.

Phil Brown

Due to the reckless and thoughtless actions of a few, this year’s Veishea is no more. ISU President Steven Leath summed it up best when he tossed aside the notion that Veishea riots can be blamed on visitors from out of town, saying, “This time, it was us.”

And it was us. By repeatedly engaging in dangerous and, quite frankly, stupid behavior, a subset of ISU students have yet again ruined a 92-year tradition, possibly forever this time. They have shown that despite the majority of students and Ames residents who do not behave in such a way, collectively, we cannot be trusted with a celebration like Veishea.

It is understandable that celebrations have been canceled — no one can say that the administration wasn’t dared to take such firm action — but it may not have been the right choice.

Unfortunately, there are many, many Veishea-related celebrations that have nothing to do with the official activities. Hundreds of students have invested thousands of hours over the course of this past year to bring Iowa State a Veishea to be proud of, but this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to student activities.

House parties, bar crawls and similar congregations abound in Ames over the Veishea week, and it is from these groups that problems truly arise. Canceling the cherry pie fund-raiser will not stop the so-called riots. Canceling the Veishea parade will not stop the destruction of property.

By stopping events such as these, the university is punishing the wrong people. It would make sense to cancel the pancake feeds and the concerts — these are activities that can attract students who may not be in the best frame of mind. These are activities that are directed toward the current student body, the instigators of the violent outbursts that left at least one Iowa State student hospitalized after being hit by a toppling light pole.

Additionally, with no more Veishea activities, the students and visitors of Ames have no immediate incentive to behave themselves tonight and in the next few days. In fact, unfounded anger over the loss may incite even worse behavior. Obviously, the threat of canceling future Veisheas will hang over the heads of those students who will not be graduating, but think that through for a minute.

People are tipping cars, bringing down light poles and throwing full beer cans at police officers. If such a crowd cannot think of consequences as direct as being arrested or harming others, they cannot be expected to envision consequences a full year off.

Let’s be honest, for many of the students at Iowa State, Veishea is merely an excuse to drink massive amounts of alcohol and act like a jerk. It shouldn’t be and it causes a great many of us to feel shame for our university, but it’s the truth.

In light of that truth, it would be completely reasonable for Iowa State to cancel the Veishea festivities next year and moving forward. However, throwing away the hard work and planning of hundreds of students and faculty does little to punish those actually responsible.

It would have been more prudent for the university to announce that they were going to assess whether or not Veishea would ever happen again and that a select number of activities were canceled immediately, such as the pancake feeds and the concerts. This would have conveyed the seriousness of the situation while making sure that a year’s worth of work was not wasted by the childish actions of a few drunken idiots.