Beneficial university festival turns into disaster

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 7.39.53 AMTwo weeks ago on Tuesday night, Ames was in chaos as thousands of people, many being students at Iowa State University, rioted during the Veishea festival. They overturned cars, knocked down light poles, threw beer cans and rocks and severely injured an ISU student, who luckily is now in stable condition. News of the riot was spread through social networking sites, particularly Twitter, and several policemen and officials spent the whole night trying to stop the riot and clean up afterward.

The Veishea festival was created in 1922. Throughout the years, its purpose has been to show off the products and technologies of Iowa State University and simultaneously raise money for several charities. It is also the largest student-run festival in the nation, and thousands of people visit the university every year for the festival.

Despite the good intentions of this festival, this has not been the first time it has resulted in riots. The Veishea festival has featured riots in 1988, 1992, 1994, 1997 and 2004. Each riot led to several arrests, injuries, extreme police intervention and, on one occasion, death. The festival has been cancelled several times following these riots, and this year’s riot was no exception. The festival was hastily cancelled, wasting the hard work of students who worked hard to try to make the festival a success.

It seems that the most disappointing thing is that the rioters have turned a beneficial festival into a shameful reputation for ISU. Veishea was supposed to be an opportunity for the university to demonstrate what it can do in each of its respective colleges, which in turn can help recruit new students, strengthen programs and potentially increase funding. In addition, whatever money would have been donated to multiple charities is now nonexistent. Veishea is now “that riot at ISU I heard about on Twitter.” If parents are looking into sending their children to ISU for college, it’s fairly certain that many will be uncomfortable with their children attending a school that could riot and cause serious harm to them. Instead of raising money for charities, students who weren’t involved in the riots are raising money for the city to make repairs to damage done by the riots and for those whose cars were overturned and damaged. Granted, it’s a positive thing that students are trying to make up for the idiocy of their peers, but it should not be necessary. The Veishea riots should not have happened at all.

In fact, several ISU students who did not participate in the riots and put weeks of planning and effort into the event were outraged, often letting their peers know of their anger on Facebook and Twitter, the very same sites where the riot was advertised and convinced other students to join. One ISU student wrote, “It’s because of this small minority that all the great things students have been spending months planning for Veishea have been cancelled. I hope all [rioters] involved take a hard look at themselves in the mirror. This is not how you want to represent yourselves, and it’s sure as hell not how you want to represent Iowa State.”

The truth of the matter is that those who participated in the Veishea riot should be ashamed of themselves, particularly ISU students. Not only did they harm a student, but they caused unnecessary damage and ruined the reputation of a good school. There is no excuse for such behavior, whether it be the influence of alcohol, deindividuation or peer pressure. Students studying at universities are supposed to be our future, the ones we depend on to keep our nation running. Instead of creating a better future for themselves, they’re spending their time ruining their futures and getting arrested and for what? One night of irresponsible “fun” that resulted in a costly amount of property damage, the severe injury of a student, the division of a university and the cancellation of a festival meant only for the benefit of others. All need to consider the consequences of their actions, even before they perform them. We all need to stop encouraging the attention these kinds of events receive through social media, and we must prevent these awful events from happening in the future, lest chaos ensue.

 

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