For those of you who don’t live in state, most of you, you may not know that my alma mater’s usual spring celebration VEISHEA, the largest student run festival in the country, has been suspended this year due (yet again) to another riot.
As an undergraduate, VEISHEA to me was an opportunity to showcase the college. I was a member of the chemistry club (odd English major that I was), and we decorated and put on a show to the nines. We sometimes won first, sometimes second best open house, our chief rivals being biology. There was a parade, and a variety of festivities. There’s always been too much drinking. Some fires were started in frat row, but things escalated seriously in 1988.
VEISHEA’s first riot happened in 1998 when I was still working on my Masters at ISU. It was a bit of an embarrassment, of course. There were task forces to decide whether we should still have the festival or not. In the end, the festival was moved from May to April, in hopes that cooler weather would dampen darker spirits.
But it did not. VEISHEA riots have occurred every few years since then. One year the event was cancelled all together in an effort to stop the mobs. This year, we did it again. And this year, someone was hurt again when a light pole fell on them. Why are we pulling out lamp posts? The spirit just moves us, man. Thanks to social media, arrests are being made. Good.
Most of the alums I talk to think we should just shut it down, and I agree. All of the good that the festival used to do in the past has vanished, only to be replaced by this negative publicity. No one goes to Dairy Industries for ice cream anymore. No one cares about VEISHEA pies or club displays, or even nostalgia alum visits for late night Campaniling. Nope, it’s all about if the students and visitors will riot this year. And you know, that stinks.
I sincerely hope that this year’s suspension leads to permanent cancellation. The harm has been done, the festival is irretrievable. The vandals have won, and that just makes me angry. But when people start getting hurt, it’s time to let it go.