Veishea ends at Iowa State; new traditions will begin with 'thoughtful approach'

AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University President Steven Leath today (Aug. 7) announced his decision to permanently discontinue Veishea, supporting the recommendations of the 2014 Veishea Task Force and ending a celebration that has been overshadowed by destruction and violence over the past three decades.

“I understand that it is very sad and disappointing to see this 92-year tradition come to an end, and there may be some who are upset with this decision, but I am not going to continue to put students at risk so that we can preserve what, to many, has become a week-long party,” Leath said at a news conference. “I will not be the president who has to call a student’s parents in the middle of the night to say your child has been critically injured in another Veishea-related disturbance.”

Leath suspended Veishea 2014 in the aftermath of an April 8 late-night disturbance in Campustown. He appointed a task force, led by Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Tom Hill, to examine the celebration's future. The task force submitted its final report and recommendations to the president on July 11.

Leath acknowledged numerous changes to Veishea and attempts to prevent related disturbances since 1992 – efforts that ultimately did not succeed. Citing student safety as his No. 1 priority, a somber Leath said his decision was a difficult one, but it is the right one for Iowa State.

“It’s time to stop the cycle. We can’t continue to do the same thing and expect a different result,” he said.

The Veishea name will be retired. Some traditions associated with the event will likely continue, Leath said, such as a musical theater performance. The university plans to support the 100th anniversary of ISU Theatre this year, he added.

Following the Veishea Task Force’s recommendations, Leath said he remains open to a future university showcase or events, but the content and timeframe are to be determined.

“I look forward to working with Government of the Student Body President Hillary Kletscher and other student leaders, the Faculty Senate and administrative leadership to determine the capacity in which selected previous events and any new events can take place,” Leath said.

“We’re going to take a very thoughtful approach to this as we decide how to move forward to ensure student safety.”

Leath said he also plans to work with members of the Faculty Senate, deans and the Office of the Senior Vice President for Student Affairs to evaluate the university’s Student Disciplinary Regulations, or code of conduct. And, he plans to collaborate with city and neighborhood leaders and local law enforcement to address the 2014 task force’s recommendations related to security, community relations and city ordinances.

Thousands of student leadership opportunities continue at Iowa State, Leath said. With more than 850 clubs and organizations, as well as residence halls, learning communities and student programs, “I am confident that the roughly 150 students who served on the Veishea planning committees will have no trouble identifying other options on campus to gain equal leadership experience,” he noted.

Even as Veishea ends, Leath reiterated his pride in Iowa State.

“I don’t want (this) to, in any way, diminish all of the other extraordinary things we’re doing every day, in every college, department and unit on campus,” he said.