In announcing the end of Veishea Thursday Iowa State University President Steven Leath noted that most people who contacted him about the issue agreed the springtime celebration should be retired. Ames resident Larry Huisman attended Leath’s news conference Thursday at the ISU Memorial Union.
“I think what the president did is the appropriate thing,” Huisman said. Veishea, an annual event on the ISU campus since 1922, was cut short this year after violence broke out in the Campustown area of Ames. Veishea has been marred by violence several times since the late 1980s.
Huisman attended ISU in the 1960s and remembers, back then, students drank in private. “In 1965, when I graduated, if there was drinking, it was kept undercover. There also was an unwritten law, there were no bars in Campustown,” Huisman said. “I was in a fraternity and we did drink, but we made sure nobody knew we drank. Now, it seems to be fine to go out in the streets and drink.”
Huisman believes the overall purpose of Veishea, for many students, has changed over time. “In the 1960s, it was to showoff the school and the place you lived. Now, it’s a lot of drinking,” Huisman said. Leath said some traditions associated with Veishea will likely continue, but the “content and timeframe are still to be determined.”
Huisman is hoping those events that showcase positive things happening at ISU will carry on. “One of the things that Veishea (did) was provide a lot of funds for student groups. So, hopefully they can put on a function and still earn the money they need,” Huisman said.
Leath noted many people from Huisman’s era had hoped Veishea wouldn’t be retired. “Generally speaking, alumni from the 50s and 60s, tend to want Veishea to continue,” Leath said. “I do worry sometimes they saw and experienced a very different Veishea than we see now.”
Most residents of Ames, Leath added, were very much in favor of ending Veishea – at least the ones he met face to face. “When I go to the grocery store, a number of Ames residents will stop me and give me their take on Veishea,” Leath said. “Interestingly, of the Ames community, it’s essentially 100-percent that this thing needs to end and something has to be done.”
Following the violence on April 8, Leath canceled the remainder of Veishea 2014 and appointed a task force to discuss the event’s future. Leath said all 19 task force members agreed it was time for Veishea to end.