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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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MSU not looking to discipline students 'just standing in the crowd' during Cedar Village disturbance


A shirt is burned in the streets of Cedar Village on Dec. 8, 2013. The police and fire department responded to multiple fires across East Lansing.

In addition to disorderly conduct charges from the East Lansing Police Department, students who helped instigate the chaotic Cedar Village revelries could face punishment ranging from a warning to dismissal from the university.

“What MSU is looking for in the student judicial process aren’t those students who were simply standing in the crowd,” university spokesperson Jason Cody said. “The main focus are those students who started and fueled the fires, threw things at police officers and other actions like that.”

MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon released a statement Monday assuring the MSU community that instigators would be properly disciplined.

“These incidents will be reviewed within the appropriate legal and university processes and individuals will be held accountable,” Simon said. “I ask that you join me in reinforcing that Spartans honor the success of our teams by celebrating with class.”

Cody said it is difficult at this time to know whether or not the suspects who have been identified will face dismissal from the university, because every case is unique.

But the first step is working closely with the East Lansing Police Department to continue to identify the students involved, he said, so the university can move forward.

The student judicial process begins with a submission of a disciplinary complaint against the students.

When filing a complaint or bringing up charges against a student, ASMSU President Evan Martinak said the university must cite the student against one of the rules in the Student Rights Handbook.

Martinak said in this case, the university would most likely claim involved students violated MSU’s Student Disorderly Conduct Policy.

After being charged, a student will then meet with a university administrator, choosing to accept or deny responsibility.

Students accepting responsibility can ask an administrator or ask to meet with the board to determine a penalty. Students who deny responsibility can request a formal hearing before a hearing board made up of other students and faculty or before an administrator.

If students are found responsible for their actions at Cedar Village, they may appeal the finding or penalty.

Martinak said students going through the judicial process are allowed to have a university advisor but do not have the right to an attorney, nor do they have the right to subpoena witnesses on their behalf.

ASMSU offers student defenders who can act as university advisors for the students being charged, he said.

“They have really excellent records,” Martinak said. “These are folks who know the rules and procedures inside and out and they can walk these students through step by step and help to get them through this process.”

Looking back on how similar charges have been handled in the past, Martinak said students faced with these charges should take them seriously.

“Our advice is to speak to a lawyer, speak to ASMSU student defenders and also, we are advising students to take down any photos they have of themselves or friends on those nights because as we speak the police are scouring through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to identify people,” Martinak said.

Cody said the university is pleased that thousands of students did things right Saturday night, but was saddened that the actions of a few marred such a great and celebratory moment.

“We want to get the message out that we are happy that the students who celebrated right did it the right way and that’s how we expect Spartans to celebrate,” Cody said. “But the students who took place in setting fires, fueling fires, throwing things at police officers, those types of actions will not be tolerated.”

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