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VEISHA celebration canceled following riot

Published: Thursday, April 10, 2014 12:20 p.m. CST

AMES (MCT) —Iowa State University on Wednesday canceled the rest of this week’s Veishea celebration after a riot the previous night seriously injured one student and left another black eye on the historic event.

ISU President Steven Leath announced the cancellation and is creating a task force to look at how -- if at all -- Veishea will continue in the future.

“We cannot have any more property destroyed or incidents of this nature,” Leath said.

Veishea, which takes its name from the first letters of the ISU colleges that existed in 1922 when the event originated, is an annual springtime celebration aimed at showcasing the ISU community through educational and entertainment events.

Despite its origins and family-friendly activities, Veishea has a history of “ugly” incidents, Leath said. There were riots in 1988, 1992, 1999 and 2004, a man was stabbed to death on a fraternity house lawn during in 1997. The event was canceled in 2005.

Leath said that history weighed into the administration’s decision to suspend the remaining events this week.

Even if VEISHEA does survive this review, Leath said, the likelihood of it continuing in its current form is “very, very small.”

“These issues have to go away,” he said.

Leath expressed extreme sadness and embarrassment about having to cancel a week of events that many hardworking students and community members have been preparing for all year. But, he said, student and community safety must come first.

He expressed condolences to the student injured during the late-night riot, along with his family members and friends. The student, whose name hasn’t been made public, suffered a severe head injury after being hit by a toppled light pole.

He remained in stable condition in intensive care in a Des Moines hospital Wednesday, according to Leath. Doctors are watching him closely, hopeful he’ll make a full recovery, Leath said.

Authorities are following up on a huge amount of information about who was involved in the overnight riot, and Leath said involved students could face criminal charges and ISU disciplinary action -- including expulsion.

Ames police said they have made two arrests associated with the riot, and they’re continuing to look for those involved in the vandalism, including the incident that severely injured the student.

Cmdr. Geoff Huff said it’s too early to tell for certain, but he does not believe the student injured by the light pole was directly involved in bringing it down.

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©2014 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa)

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