Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
Oct. 24, 1997

Veishea will continue -- alcohol-free

by Steve Sullivan

President Martin Jischke Oct. 22 announced that there will be a Veishea 1998 and that the university will be alcohol-free during the annual festival.

Jischke made the announcement at a news conference at the Memorial Union. The announcement comes after five student organizations pledged that Veishea weekend will be safe and alcohol-free. Officers of the student organizations joined Jischke at the news conference.

"Veishea belongs to the students of Iowa State and I asked them to take responsibility for its future. I asked student leaders to sincerely pledge -- on behalf of the students they represent -- to make Veishea safe and alcohol-free," Jischke said. "I have received these pledges and have been assured of their sincerity. I now feel confident that moving ahead with Veishea for 1998 is the right thing to do."

Jischke received pledges of a safe, alcohol-free Veishea from the Government of the Student Body, the Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Council, the Inter-Residence Hall Association and the Veishea Executive Board, which is the student group that plans the annual celebration.

Veishea began in 1922 and is considered the largest student- run festival in the nation. Since 1987, several Veishea celebrations have been marred by rioting, and last spring, 19-year-old Harold "Uri" Sellers was fatally stabbed outside a fraternity house during Veishea weekend. As a result of these incidents, Veishea has been under intense scrutiny and review by ISU administrators, who attribute a large part of the problem with Veishea to abuse of alcohol, particularly by underage persons.

In the aftermath of the murder, Jischke announced in August that Veishea would continue only if he received sincere pledges for a safe and alcohol-free celebration from students and the university community.

Jischke also announced Oct. 22 that he has asked Thomas Hill, vice president for student affairs, to draft conduct regulations for the Veishea weekend that are based on Iowa State's Student Conduct Code. This is being done to ensure that students and everyone involved in Veishea understand the expectations for conduct during Veishea weekend and the consequences of ignoring them, Jischke said.

"Our aim in making the university alcohol-free during Veishea is to create a safer, healthier celebration for everyone. We are not doing this to put students at increased risk of disciplinary action by the university or Ames police," Jischke said.

"However, Iowa State students need to be on notice that if there are violations, they will be subject to disciplinary action ranging from a warning to suspension or expulsion, depending on the severity of the violation.

"I realize that many of the problems Veishea has had are related to the actions of non-students, but, still, it is Iowa State students who will organize Veishea and set the tone for the weekend. They must be role models for the weekend," Jischke said.

While the university has direct responsibility and jurisdiction on campus (i.e., university-owned properties and the housing of recognized student organizations), students who are arrested for violations of the law off campus will face university disciplinary action. Local law enforcement records will be used to determine who may be subject to discipline for violations that occur off campus, Jischke added.

In his announcement in August, Jischke challenged students to pledge their support for a safe and alcohol-free Veishea. In return, Jischke said the university would take additional steps to improve safety and reduce the influence of alcohol during Veishea and throughout the year. He outlined that increased university support.

"First, we are increasing our alcohol education efforts. Second, I am asking Vice President Hill to convene three task forces to look at the issues of student life in fraternities and sororities, residence halls and off campus. Third, we are adding campus security officers to increase safety in student housing areas," Jischke said.

"Fourth, we are reviewing the Student Conduct Code and expanding the capacity of the Office of Judicial Affairs to deal with conduct code violations. Fifth, we are prepared to financially support activities during Veishea that provide healthy and safe alternatives to the alcohol-centered parties of the past."

Jischke also announced the university's intent to work with the Veishea planning committee to see how the annual celebration can be restructured to enhance its role as a celebration of the university and to reduce the risk of disruptive and dangerous behavior. He is seeking recommendations by the end of December.

Jischke said in the six months since the fatal stabbing, he has visited with students, parents, alumni, leaders in the Ames community, faculty, staff, law enforcement officials and political leaders and received "mixed" reaction to the question of continuing Veishea. Even some loyal Veishea supporters, he said, questioned the usefulness of the celebration.

Jischke said he was prepared to end Veishea if he did not receive the sincere promises of students that they would work for significant change.

"The easiest course of action would have been simply to put an end to Veishea," Jischke said. "But that would have done nothing to address the alcohol abuse issue. Also, Veishea is a student event and has been for 75 years. The students, through their elected leaders, have made clear that they want the Veishea tradition to continue and are prepared to make the dramatic changes that are needed to make Veishea a celebration that the university can support.

"I am very proud of the student leaders and their organizations for the stand they have taken. This is a clear signal that this generation of student leaders at ISU is prepared to take responsibility for change. It is a very encouraging sign. They have made the necessary commitments, and I have decided to accept their pledges and support their efforts.

"Now, the truly hard work of transforming Veishea begins. A safe and alcohol-free Veishea can be a showcase of Iowa State and our students. I have pledged my support to the students and their efforts to return Veishea to its original purposes. We look forward to working with them over the next six months to realize the promise of their commitments," he said.

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