AMES, Iowa (AP) — A popular Iowa State University celebration was suspended Wednesday after a student was seriously injured in a rowdy, late-night crowd that overturned cars and toppled light poles near the campus, the school's president announced Wednesday.
Authorities said two people have been arrested, but they did not release additional details. University President Steven Leath said any students linked to the overnight incident could face criminal charges or school disciplinary action.
Leath said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon at the Ames campus that Veishea, a multi-day celebration designed to showcase the educational establishment, its students and alumni, would be suspended as of 5 p.m. Officials have not decided whether to hold it in future years.
The celebration, which started days earlier, features a popular parade, music and other entertainment. A male student was seriously injured after the crowd gathered in the Campustown area of Ames late Tuesday and pelted officers with rocks and beer cans. None of the officers required medical treatment. The crowd overturned at least two cars and knocked down two light poles, striking the student who was badly hurt.
Police Cmdr. Geoff Huff estimated the crowd number at 1,000 people or more. They dispersed early Wednesday. The school has not identified the student or the extent of his injuries. Leath said the student is in the intensive care unit at a Des Moines hospital. He is stable and conscious, the president added.
Officials at the news conference said police and firefighters had to press through the throng to reach the injured student. The university president said he was extremely disappointed by the events and that he was embarrassed for the university.
"This type of conduct is not going to be tolerated by me or the university," he said. Ames Police Chief Chuck Cychosz said authorities have received tips from the public in an effort to help identify people involved in the vandalism.
"In particular we're very interested in finding the people who may have been involved in the incidents that led to this injury." he said. "We appreciate the help we're getting from the community. ... It will help us to file charges in those incidents where they're appropriate."
It was not clear what caused the crowd to gather or what led to the disruptive behavior. The celebration's schedule indicated that the last school-sanctioned events of the night began hours earlier. The Des Moines Register reported that Veishea, which dates back decades, was marred by violence in 2004, resulting in dozens of arrests and tens of thousands of dollars in damage. The university canceled the celebration the following year.
Leath said a task force will be created to examine the celebration. He said he will decide by the end of the school year whether to cancel Veishea indefinitely. Leath said safety is the school's top priority, "and unfortunately the true purpose of Veishea has been overshadowed by too many acts of this nature, which jeopardize the safety of our students and really the entire Ames community."
Iowa State University has more than 33,200 students, according to the school's website.