Maxwell: All Veishea traditions are clearly harmful


People enjoy riding in the Veishea parade on April 20, 2013 to show everyone their creative designs.

Alexander Maxwell

When Iowa State University president Steven Leath canceled all remaining Veishea events on Tuesday, our school took a step in the right direction. We should take pride in the cancellation of the malicious events that are part of Veishea, such as the parade during the weekend, or the selling of cherry pies to raise money for student scholarships. Having these events on campus is clearly a cause of reckless behavior elsewhere in Ames many days prior to when they are held. Not only was canceling Veishea the correct decision, but much more should be done to prevent crowds from ever forming. Simply put, all possible sources of crowd formation should be prohibited.

According to United States federal code chapter 18, section 2102, every time more than three people gather in a group, there exists the possibility of a riot forming. All it takes for this to happen is for that group of people to show the capability to cause damage. In fact, the ability of multiple persons coming together and causing harm is what should deter most people from wanting to be part of any large gathering. Any time multiple people gather together, the only natural reaction to have is fear. Crowds are scary, and when people come together, the result is almost always unpleasant.

Many terrible things happened on Tuesday night, and undeniably Veishea is directly to blame. Fundamentally, Veishea is a series of events held at Iowa State, such as the international food fair, and it is because of events such as this that people decided to gather on Welch Avenue late Tuesday evening. Undoubtedly, it was these events that caused hateful feelings in people, which eventually resulted in the formation of a mob and is what drove that mob to perform a great number of destructive acts. Without Veishea, people never would have formed large groups or participated in these harmful activities.

As an institution comprised of many thousands of students, we should have known better than to plan something as provocative as Veishea. Unfortunately, this week-long celebration essentially encourages students to come together and take pride in being part of Iowa State. But if history is any indication, there is no way to control groups of people without lethal force. Allowing people to come together is always an invitation for disaster. This is why we must ban all public gatherings as well as all things that could possibly arouse many people.

Luckily, anything that could cause people to become unruly can easily be prevented. As a general rule, events should never be planned specifically to create emotional responses in people. Fundamentally, this is why we must eliminate events such as concerts, sporting events, and public holidays. These events are obviously likely to cause excitement in people, and therefore should not be tolerated. If the potential exists for many people to become emotionally aroused or enjoy themselves beyond a moderate amount, there is a real danger that a group of emotionally-motivated people could form and cause problems. Any reasonable person can agree that crowds should always be avoided, especially if that crowd is having a good time.

Realistically, there are multiple events that Iowa State should additionally be taking action to cancel. A fundamental example is the Iowa-Iowa State football game. This match has previously caused crowds of excited people on multiple occasions, yet it has still not been canceled. Most sporting events should be banned for this reason. My own personal experience as co-chair of the Engineering Career Fair and as a member of the Engineer’s Week executive committee have given me a thorough understanding of how all large groups of people are dangerous and uncontrollable. Consequently, I recommend that both the career fair and Engineer’s Week are included among the events being canceled. All holiday celebrations must also be forbidden. Not only should these be banned from Iowa State’s campus, the city of Ames and the surrounding area must also prevent any such celebrations, including censoring all relevant promotion of them, since such promotion could encourage people to come together to celebrate.

In the end, stopping the many destructive Veishea events such as the musical performance by Stars Over Veishea should be an example for the rest of society to follow. We must never allow any reason for a public gathering of large amounts of people, especially if they are gathered together with the intention of celebrating, such as what occurs during New Year’s, Mardi Gras, Independence Day, or even Spring Break. Hopefully all of these celebratory events are also canceled accordingly. But while Veishea might have been just a series of traditional events on Iowa State’s campus focused on celebrating our school, they were also quite clearly the direct cause of harmful actions off of campus that occurred days before those events took place. And now that it has thankfully been shut down, there will not be any reason for people to gather in large groups and act violently. Good riddance.