Turn the lights out on Veishea

Last week’s decision by Iowa State University President Steven Leath to end Veishea was the right call.

Over the last several years, the campus-wide celebration had evolved into a frenetic, no-holds barred party of alcohol excess, property damage, violence and even death.

And following the riots this past April, Leath, ISU and the city of Ames could no longer justify Veishea’s continuation.

While I’m glad Veishea will come to an end, I’m also sad that this decision even had to be made.

As an alum of ISU, Veishea held special memories – the parade, the cherry pies, numerous events sponsored by student clubs and organizations designed to promote what makes Iowa State a great place for academics, student activities, athletics and leadership opportunities.

Veishea was, during its heyday, a great tool for student recruitment, drawing young people to Ames, showcasing the opportunities ISU could offer.

But the week-long festivities, sadly, have changed into a rip-roaring drunkfest, police cars being turned over, light poles being torn down as well as too many incidents of property damage.

Alcohol on campus is nothing new. For many young people, it has become some sort of a rite of passage.

But when that rite of passage escalates into violence and the reason for Veishea’s existence has evolved from campus celebration into front-page headlines about riots and tear gas, it’s time to shut it down.

Veishea is no longer a campus recruitment endeavor – enrollment numbers are at record levels. There are hundreds of student clubs and organizations – they will continue on with or without this event.

For many, Veishea was a long-held tradition worth holding on to. But recent incidents have damaged Veishea’s purpose and reputation, and holding on to that tradition just isn’t worth it.

Contact Jeff Hutton at 641-753-6611 or jhutton@timesrepublican.com