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ISU cancels VEISHEA

BY IAN MURPHY | APRIL 10, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa State University President Steven Leath canceled the remainder of VEISHEA in the wake of riots during the early morning hours on Wednesday.

One student suffered a head injury and had to be airlifted to a hospital in Des Moines. Numerous cars were flipped over, and several light posts were pulled down during the riots.

Leath will appoint a special task force to determine the future of the event later this month, said John McCarroll, the school’s executive director of University Relations.

Leath met with his senior cabinet and announced the cancellation of the rest of the events Wednesday afternoon at a press conference.

McCarroll said the task force will represent broad interests, including students, community members, police officers, among others, and will provide direction on specific issues.

One of those issues is the future of VEISHEA.

He said Leath would meet with the task force to gain input into a student celebration such as VEISHEA and whether it is a liability for the university to hold it.

“Every number of years, we have a significant problem,” McCarroll said. “We cannot have that anymore.”

ISU sophomore Hunter Alexander witnessed the rioting.

“I was kind of pumped up, the adrenaline was rushing,” Alexander said. 

Alexander said he witnessed people throwing beer cans and bottles at a police car before following the police car up Welch Avenue in Ames.

Emily Kresse, a University of Iowa freshman originally from Ames, said she had planned to attend VEISHEA this weekend but no longer will. She said the event has gotten out of hand.

“I think it’s sad, growing up, VEISHEA was always so much fun,” Kresse said. “The college students ruined a community event.”

She said the activity is not representative of Ames or of ISU.

“This is an exceptional activity,” she said. “This isn’t normal.”

Similar riots in 2004 resulted in the cancellation of VEISHEA 2005. In 1997, a student was stabbed to death on the front lawn of a fraternity house.

McCarroll said the focus of the week has moved away from the organized, controlled events, to the out-of-control parties.

“There is a possibility that VEISHEA may not occur,” McCarroll said. “We simply cannot have this behavior.”

McCarroll said a decision on the future of the event would ultimately come from Leath.

Paige Gwiasda, a UI senior also from Ames, echoed many of Kresse’s statements.

“It’s been going downhill for a long time,” Gwiasda said.  She said students have lost the purpose of the event: to celebrate the school.

She said she will still go to Ames this weekend, but she will stay away from the Iowa State campus.

“I love Ames as a town, but I think [VEISHEA] makes it look bad,” Gwiasda said.

Alexander said he thinks the riots will have lasting consequences on VEISHEA.

“I don’t think VEISHA is going to happen for two to four years,” Alexander said.

He said he thinks canceling the rest of the week will upset people, but he hopes the student getting hurt will calm them down.

Alexander said he does not expect more trouble from students.

Armin Mesinovic, an ISU sophomore and witness to the riots, said the unrest would not be worth the repercussions.

“It was a wild experience,” he said. “But it still had a negative effect.”


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