Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
Aug. 29, 1997

Jischke: Veishea must be safe and alcohol-free

by Steve Sullivan

Veishea will continue only if students and the rest of the university community pledge to make it safe and alcohol-free, President Martin Jischke announced Aug. 27 at a meeting of the Government of the Student Body.

"I am prepared to continue Veishea if students will join me and others at Iowa State in a pledge to make Veishea safe and alcohol-free," Jischke said. "This pledge must be real and it must be sincere, and those who commit to it must be willing to take the responsibility for seeing that it is followed. This essentially puts the future of Veishea where it should be -- in the hands of Iowa State's students."

Jischke will make the final decision on Veishea's fate in October. He plans to hold an open forum Sept. 22 for a public discussion on the future of Veishea.

Veishea, an ISU tradition since 1922, has been under the microscope since late April when 19-year-old Uri Sellers was fatally stabbed outside a Welch Avenue fraternity house during Veishea weekend.

The death was the latest in a string of events that has tarnished the image of the spring festival. In 1988 and 1992, Ames' campustown area was the site of rioting during Veishea weekend. In 1994, off-campus disturbances marred the weekend.

The incidents are a "wake-up call that must be answered," Jischke told the students. The root causes of Veishea's problems are excessive use of alcohol and an influx of young people from outside the Iowa State and Ames communities "who apparently care little about the consequences of their behavior for Ames, Iowa State or other people," he said.

"This annual event attracts large numbers of people, including many high school students who also are prospective students of this university," Jischke continued. "Unfortunately, it also attracts many persons who come to Ames solely for the partying associated with Veishea. This partying -- with its excessive use of alcohol -- has grown to the point that it has become unmanageable and extremely dangerous."

Jischke pointed out that the murder involved three young men, all under 21 years of age and none of whom attended Iowa State or lived in Ames. He also noted that the majority of the hundreds of arrests during Veishea weekend involved non- ISU students.

"Either we eliminate the illegal misbehavior and alcohol, or Veishea cannot continue," he said.

In response to a question from a student, Jischke said he doesn't intend an alcohol-free Veishea to be a one-year policy.

"We need to deal with it and we need to deal with it for quite a while," he said.

During the summer, Jischke discussed the Veishea issue with student leaders involved in Veishea, student government, residence halls and the Greek system. Ames residents, faculty, staff, students, alumni and Iowans also have had input via phone calls, letters and personal contact.

Jischke plans more meetings with Veishea, Greek system and residence hall system student leaders to outline personally the direction he wants Veishea to take and ask that they support a safe, alcohol-free Veishea on behalf of the students they represent. He also will be visiting with Ames city and community leaders about ways they can support the student activity.

"Many of our best students work very hard to make Veishea a celebration worthy of this university, and they are to be commended highly for their efforts," Jischke said.

"Veishea is, first and foremost, a student activity -- conceived by students and carried out by students for 75 years. The students now must choose whether Veishea will end after 75 years or continue," he said. "For this year's Veishea organizers, a decision needs to be made in the next four to six weeks."

If Veishea continues, the university will follow up on its pledge to help ensure that it is safe and alcohol-free, Jischke said.

These actions will include increasing alcohol education efforts, adding campus security officers to patrol the Greek housing areas, strengthening entertainment for students during Veishea and moving "Taste of Veishea" away from campustown bars to another location, for example, the Iowa State Center.

Other measures will include working with administrators and student leaders at Iowa's other state universities to reduce alcohol abuse and convening task forces on residence hall and Greek life to explore, with students, ways of enhancing student life in university-approved housing.

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