Celebrating Iowa State without getting wasted

Elton Wong

It’s kind of funny, but I don’t really associate Veishea with college.

I’m from Ames, so ever since I was a kid we got to cut class to go to campus and see what all the college kids were up to.

At the time, Veishea was all about food vendors and parades and demonstrations performed by the Chemistry Department where things would blow up.

Of course, we would hear about the riots that happened every so often, and my friends who lived near campus would sometimes complain about their lawns being urinated on by drunks.

And there was this one time when my friends and I got chased around by a guy holding a sword and wearing chain mail armor.

Mostly, though, my memories are positive. I remember the little cherry pies and hanging out on the college green with my friends.

The weird thing is that my freshman year at college coincided with the first year that Veishea was declared to be alcohol-free, by order of then-president Jishcke.

This was done in response to a murder that occurred during the 1997 celebration, where Harold “Uri” Sellers was stabbed to death in front of a fraternity party.

For a time, there was even a question as to whether the event would be held.

With this in mind, the administration viewed the “dry” policy as a compromise, where Veishea would be allowed to survive, though in a slightly altered form.

The alcohol-free pledge provoked students to no great extent, mostly because they thought the administration was abusing the rights of the student body.

In a way, this is accurate. My friends Brandon Riley and Rob Deisz certainly had a point when they dressed up (in a giant beer can costume and business suit, respectively) and called the alcohol-free “Veishea pledge” an “ultimatum disguised as a choice.”

Certainly, Jishcke didn’t seem overly eager to hear what students had to say about the issue; his decision to ban alcohol was probably motivated by his desire to build his resume, to make him look like a tough-minded, no-nonsense administrator when he applied for positions at other universities.

Students became galvanized about the alcohol issue more than just about anything else going on at the university.

Now, while I’m not one to say that college is completely about studying or that no one should do anything fun while pursuing a degree, it really does reflect badly on the student body when the only thing we are activists about is our right to drink alcohol every day of the year.

Perhaps what is worse is that students claim the no alcohol policy “ruined Veishea.”

Seriously, there are 52 weekends in a year. Is it really too much to ask that partying be restrained on one particular weekend, when Iowa State is being showcased as an educational institution?

After all, the administration wasn’t acting in a completely random manner when they banned alcohol. It’s not as if they were oppressing students for the fun of it.

Even disregarding the murder, Veishea has long been marred by riots, destruction of property, violence and even rape.

No one wants to see Iowa State turn into Police State for one weekend, but one could argue that this wouldn’t be necessary if college students could show that they could party responsibly.

Certainly I had a strange conception of college students when I was a kid. One moment, they were making you pie. the next, they’d be overturning your car.

In any case, there are 362-odd days in a year where students can go out, get wasted, and throw up all they want.

Veishea is only a couple of days that are specifically set aside for the ISU community to come together and celebrate everything the university has to offer.

I mean, when you’re not out getting drunk, presumably you do stuff like attend classes and learn things, right?

There are clubs, organizations and all kinds of student groups at this university, and Veishea is first and foremost a time for these aspects of the university to be showcased.

Although high school seniors can look on the Web to check out colleges they want to apply to, Veishea is a time for prospects to see concrete and human aspects of the university.

What I’m trying to say is I get discouraged when students say that Veishea is no fun because it may never be the huge party weekend it once was or that Veishea has nothing to offer.

If you think that alcohol is the only thing that a celebration could have to offer, then why are you in college at all?

That which is really essential to the celebration hasn’t really changed over the past few years.

So this Friday and Saturday, take the time to walk around campus to enjoy the sun and see your fellow ISU students.

Take a look at what the different departments have going on.

Have some food and take in the atmosphere.

The cherry pies, I imagine, are as good as they ever have been, and I am fairly sure at least one department still makes things explode.

Veishea is about school spirit, and there are ways to celebrate school spirit without getting drunk or going to sports events.

This university can be celebrated in many ways, and Veishea has always been a good one of them.

Elton Wong is a senior in genetics and philosophy from Ames. His one Veishea regret is that Cornbread won’t be paying at Hilton this year. Curse those handsome devils.