Klingseis: Respect Veishea, remember it doesn’t belong solely to you

By Katherine Klingseis, katherine.klingseis@iowastatedaily.com

I’ve been to Veishea every year since I was born — except for 2005 when it was canceled because of the 2004 riot.

As a kid, I would go to the parade, always attempting to grab as much candy as possible — not caring how many other children I had to elbow jab to get it. After the parade, my family and I would go to the Taste of Veishea, with my mom holding my hand as I scooped popcorn into my mouth.

Our day would end with my family returning to our house, which was located on Welch Avenue, and I would wait not-so-patiently for the next Veishea to roll around.

As much fun as I had each year at Veishea, there were moments that happened during Veishea that tarnished the experience for me and still affect me today.

During Veishea 1997, when I was 6 years old, a man was murdereda block from my house on the front lawn of Adelante Fraternity.

I can remember my parents talking about the incident after it had happened.

It took years for me to feel comfortable walking past the building — I would always walk on the other side of the street. The incident made me afraid of not only that fraternity, but of Veishea.

Living on Welch, my family and I were at the center of the Veishea party circuit. Even before the infamous 2004 riot, police often had to disperse large groups of students who were vandalizing property and harassing officers. As I tried to fall asleep at night, I would hear people outside of my window yelling, laughing and doing whatever else they wanted. When my family and I woke up in the morning, we would often find trash in our yard and some of our belongings missing.

I can remember my mother catching a young woman stealing my toy wagon one night. At that point, my mother had become fed up with college students stealing my toys. So she decided to jump in her car and drive on the sidewalk, trailing the girl who stole my wagon.

Needless to say, I got my wagon back, and that girl realized the fury of a mother’s scorn. I also stopped leaving toys outside. I became fearful that people would steal from me.

When the Veishea 2004 riot occurred, I can remember waking up several times to loud noises. I had just gotten my appendix removed when the riot occurred, so I was somewhat loopy and didn’t trust my senses. I woke up in the morning and watched the scenes of the riot on TV, terrified of what had happened mere blocks away from where I had been sleeping. I was scared of the people on the screen. Again, I was scared of Veishea.

My family eventually moved to a house in a more family-friendly neighborhood. We would continue to go to Veishea, always leaving campus before nightfall. To me, Veishea at night was the time for bad things to happen, and I didn’t want to be anywhere near those things.

I attended Veishea for the first time as a college student last year. As a student, I no longer felt afraid of Veishea.

The people who I feared were now fellow classmates. The “bad” people with indistinguishable faces became the people I saw every day. The dark shadow that draped over my childhood Veishea experiences had been lifted and I could see that Veishea was much more than just an event where college students get drunk and break the law — it’s about bringing people together to celebrate Iowa State and just have fun.

However, as demonstrated from the police blotter, some students still get drunk and break the law during Veishea. This won’t change. People will get drunk and get arrested. It’s about as sure as death and taxes. In fact, I propose changing the saying to “it’s about as sure as death, taxes and people getting arrested during Veishea.”

But, regardless of arrests, I do want to urge students to think about how their actions affect other people.

Veishea is an event geared toward a wide range of ages. With riots and murders, many families will hesitate to attend Veishea. Some alumni would also choose not to attend. The reduction or elimination of these groups’ attendance would affect the atmosphere of Veishea. Maybe I’m biased because I am in a family who attends Veishea, but I think losing the attendance of families and alumni would significantly reduce the quality of Veishea.

Going into Veishea weekend, remember to have fun, but also remember that Veishea doesn’t belong solely to you.

It’s an event that is shared by many people. Your behavior affects their Veishea experiences. Respect those people and respect Veishea.

(Posted originally on Iowastatedaily.com on April 20, 2011)

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