UPDATE: Iowa State students react to VEISHEA cancellation - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Iowa State students react to VEISHEA cancellation

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Iowa State officials have ended a popular Iowa State University celebration for good -- and students have mixed feelings about it.

VEISHEA, a festival highlighting the school's programs that began in 1922, is no more, ISU president Steven Leath announced Thursday morning. The name will also be retired.

"Right now, when freshmen come to campus, they're under the impression that VEISHEA is spring break without leaving campus," Leath said.

The festival has also been a magnet for excessive partying, riots and even violence for years.

Melissa Rands, an ISU doctoral student, said when rioters at VEISHEA 2014 flipped a car, that was the last straw.

"I was embarrassed," Rands, who studies higher education, said. "I was very embarrassed."

VEISHEA was suspended after the 2014 riots on a Tuesday night. Students packed the streets of Campustown, throwing beer cans and rocks at police, all while toppling stop signs and light poles. One student was taken to the hospital with serious injuries after being hit in the head by a falling pole.

That's why Rands said she welcomes the cancellation.

"I think it's a very wise decision," she said. "I think we need to set a precedent that this type of behavior is not tolerated."

"I'm not going to continue to put students at risk," Leath told reporters Thursday. "I want to make it very clear: This conduct is not tolerated here."

A task force submitted recommendations to Leath in mid-July.

Matt Madsen, general manager of the Fighting Burrito restaurant, watched the riot turn ugly through his storefront.

"I was kind of on high alert," he said. "I locked the doors because I didn't know what was going on ... At first, I was very scared, but then I realized there were very few people causing damage. It was mostly people watching."

Some students are upset by the permanent cancellation. They said VEISHEA is about so much more than excessive drinking and vandalism.

"It sucks, because for a lot of people, it's a tradition," said ISU junior Divya Navi. "A lot of people look forward to VEISHEA. It brings people together. Sometimes people overlook that and just think, 'drinking and partying.'"

And some incoming students said they feel like they will miss out on a major part of campus culture.

"I was really looking forward to being a part of it, but since it's canceled, it's kind of a bummer," said freshman Matthew Faronbi.

Others will miss the traditions they've come to love.

"The cherry pies!" said Navi. "Oh no!"

But most agree, something had to change.

"The word 'VEISHEA' comes around and people automatically think riots, and that's a bad connotation to have in general," Navi said. "It's pretty frustrating, but they'll probably figure out an alternate solution. It is Iowa State, so they always have something positive for us, so hopefully we'll move on to that."

Leath said he would not oppose another campus celebration organized in the future under a different name.

Amie Steffeneicher contributed to this report.

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