VEISHEA Alumni Open Forum Recap

Alumni who wanted to discontinue VEISHEA were in the minority at the ISU Alumni Center Tuesday night as the VEISHEA task force held its final open forum. Dwayne Vande Krol ’93, former chair of the ISU Alumni Association board of directors, and Tom Hill, vice president of student affairs/task force chair, addressed the crowd before opening the event up to public comment. “I won’t be answering any questions,” Vande Krol told the crowd of about 50 people. “We want to treat this like brainstorming.”

Alumni in attendance had plenty of comments, but some admitted they didn’t necessarily have solutions to offer. The majority spoke in favor of keeping VEISHEA going in some form.

Many alumni spoke about looking for answers in VEISHEA’s past, suggesting that the event has failed in recent years to live up to the nine purposes upon which it is supposed to operate. Many said they believe participation has dwindled among parents, family, and faculty. Recent grads noted that the university and its students have done a poor job in recent years of describing to new and incoming students exactly what VEISHEA is, often giving the explanation that “it’s just a big party.” Suggestions for addressing this issue included a required half-credit course on the history and tradition of VEISHEA and better training for Destination: Iowa State leaders.

Most in attendance also agreed that VEISHEA isn’t the problem — binge drinking and Campustown house parties are. Several participants suggested stricter and more publicized repercussions for troublemakers, including permanent expulsion and large fines to cover damages caused. Other participants suggested better security in the Campustown area, including better lighting and closed-circuit TV surveillance. A text hotline for people to report out-of-control parties was also suggested. “This isn’t a VEISHEA problem,” said one participant. “It’s a Campustown problem.”

“It isn’t realistic to have the event be alcohol-free,” one participant said. “So maybe something like beer gardens would be better — a place where police control who comes in and who goes out.”

Many of the alumni who participated in last night’s forum were members of the VEISHEA committee as students; a few even teared up at the thought of losing the tradition permanently. They say the experience they gained on the VEISHEA committee helped them in their careers. One explained that he had met and had personal conversations with such individuals as William F. Buckley and John V. Atanasoff because of his service to VEISHEA — experiences he will never forget.

More than half of the task force members were on hand to listen to the comments, which were shared respectfully but passionately. The ISU Alumni Association offered live Twitter updates during the event, and here is a quick list of some of the comments made. You will also be able to watch a replay on the VEISHEA Task Force website soon:

  • “Typically what people see of VEISHEA is the bad stuff that isn’t really a part of VEISHEA. How do we bridge that gap?”
  • “VEISHEA has become more of an entertainment venue and less of an opportunity to showcase Iowa State University.”
  • “I’d encourage the task force to look very closely at the consequences of canceling it. I’m very much opposed to canceling.”
  • “For me, VEISHEA is still extremely relevant.”
  • “You as if VEISHEA is relevant to students today? Honestly, I don’t think it is. It’s time to retire it.”
  • “This isn’t a problem unique to Ames of Iowa State, but it’s a problem we have to deal with.”
  • “I’m very opposed to VEISHEA continuing. It’s scary. It’s disturbing, and it’s very disruptive in our town.”
  • “I think we need to let the majority own VEISHEA instead of letting a minority push it around.”
  • “Challenge the students on next year’s VEISHEA committee to not only celebrate the present, but look to their roots.”
  • “In terms of leadership opportunities, VEISHEA is a hallmark. It’s been such a huge benefit to the students.”
  • “I’m disappointed that we get reactive when bad things happen and we forget the proactivity of reminding others what VEISHEA is really about.”
  • “We have smart people on campus. We can figure out how to fix this.”
  • “The task force should just be called ‘How to Deal With a Warm Evening in the Spring.’ We’ll have these problems whether VEISHEA is held or not.”
  • “We’re letting the media co-opt VEISHEA by calling them ‘VEISHEA riots.’ Just because they’re partying doesn’t make it a VEISHEA riot.”
  • “I’ve come to define VEISHEA as a university celebration that’s unique to Iowa State. It was one of the top selling points for me to come here from community college.”
  • “I checked and there were about a half a dozen riots at universities in April. This is not a problem unique to Iowa State.”
  • “There should be more light shed on the operations of judicial affairs. Could they issue a report every semester or every year about the number of cases that came before them and what the decisions were? The way it is now, it appears that the information is not filtering down to the students. It would be a cautionary tale.”
  • “We have fond memories, but I think times change. I really think the whole idea of VEISHEA needs to be permanently retired. Students are not looking for the same things. Culture is changing.”
  • “I hope we can come up with a better solution than cancelling it permanently.”
  • “I do think the answers lie within the university. There are a lot of people who can look at mob mentality, shared responsibility.”
  • “I think the students want to take ownership of this.”
  • “Kick out every student that can be proved to be associated with the riot. Grow up.”

 

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3 thoughts on “VEISHEA Alumni Open Forum Recap

  1. My first VEISHEA was in 1940 – I was 4. Two floats in the parade – one a large drum rolled – about 10-15′ high– was only wooden frame.Many students rolled this along the parade route. The other was the little brown jug – gray and brown, Helium filled clear balloons came out & up. Played the Song, Little brown Jug. Dad lifted me up to see the top of sink and stove in the Home EC room. Little did I know that 20 years later I would be there in that room. The other was visiting WOI, Dad lifted me up to see the record player. They told me there really wasn’t a lady there reading every day. I was crushed. But when at ISC – 54-58 – I did meet Miss Edith Sutherland. She did walk across that gravel street and read live each day. I just knew she was real!!! Those three events – Home Ec Kitchen- The parade – the radio station Were forever in my mind!
    Changes need to be made – but the open houses – engineering on the floats – and that WOW -fashion show Must be continued! So much more is featured to incoming potential students.
    I sincerely hope ISU and Ames Community can figure an improved VEISHEA! Alma Tallman HE ED 58.

  2. Don’t cancel VEISHEA. Too many students are working hard to show the college.Alumni can also help make it better. It is a reason to return for alumni. Most have positive experiences visiting the campus. I always visit the library to see the updates. Coffee house in the library is one. The museum is another. Connecting with people opens doors. One thing I have noticed on campus overtime is the politeness of the students and others willing to help. Keep the VEISHEA open house going. Alum.

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