The chair of a task force to study the future of Veishea at Iowa State University says ending the event is definitely an option. The annual spring-time celebration on the ISU campus was cut short last week when violence erupted on the morning of April 9 in the Campustown area of Ames. Students flipped over cars, ripped out street signs, knocked over light poles, and threw rocks and beer cans at police.
ISU senior vice president for student affairs Tom Hill witnessed the riot. He was shocked, because violent acts during Veishea in past years occurred during the weekend and mostly involved non-students. “I was taken aback a little bit because it was on a Tuesday night and based on my observations, it was our students,” Hill says. “That was really difficult for me to come to grips with right away.”
ISU President Steven Leath has appointed Hill to chair a task force with 18 other members, who will study Veishea and “assess its role and relevance for the future.” Hill says ending the 92-year-old tradition is a possibility. “When you look at all of the history and everything, if you’re going to be open, you have to say that’s one of the possibilities. But, there are also some other possibilities,” Hill says. “You have to go into it and let the facts lead you to where they lead.”
Leath has asked the task force to provide him with a recommendation by the end of June. “We’re on a very tight timeline,” Hill acknowledged. “We’ve got to be very well prepared for the meetings.”
Veishea has been marred by riots over its lengthy history. In 1997, a young man was stabbed to death in a fight outside a fraternity house. Riots in 2004 led then-ISU President Greg Geoffroy to suspend Veishea in 2005.