For the most of the students implicated and arrested in the post-Big Ten championship game civil disturbance, the punishment has been a fine and a mark on their record. For material science and engineering junior Justin Paul Roe, the night holds much more significance.
Roe, 20, was sentenced to 45 days in Ingham County Jail following charges of kindling a fire, unlawful assembly and remaining within 300 feet of a fire without the intent to put it out.
The sentence serves as part of a plea agreement that will allow Roe to continue to attend school while he is incarcerated. Depending on the day and his class schedule, Roe is allowed to leave to attend classes and work as a career peer at the Center for Spartan Engineering.
In addition to jail time, Roe will be forced to pay $542 in fines and costs and $458 in restitution. He will serve his time instead of being prohibited from attending MSU or any other public Michigan college for one year. The original sentence was set for 30 days but was changed to 45 days to accommodate time outside the facility to attend classes and work.
Roe also was a former ASMSU representative for the College of Engineering. He stepped down from his position for unclear reasons.
During a meeting with The State News editorial board, East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas expressed remorse that a student has to spend time in jail, but said the decision was made because a precedent has to be set.
“People come to MSU because they have potential …. and to have this happen is such a waste of effort,” he said. “I’ll be much happier if we never have to have someone go to jail for this again.”
Roe and his lawyer did not reply to requests for comment from The State News on Monday.
Roe joins 26 others who were arrested in December, mostly for remaining within 300 feet of an open fire without the intention to put it out. The East Lansing Fire Department responded to a minimum of 57 fires that night, and DTN Management Co. Vice President Colin Cronin said the damage in Cedar Village was estimated to be between $5,000 and $10,000.
East Lansing police Chief Juli Liebler said during the meeting that the burden of stopping civil disturbances doesn’t fall on increasing the number of police officers, but on individuals taking responsibility for their actions and refraining from incidents that would contribute to their arrest.
“The answer can’t be that we need more police officers, the answer has to be that we stop doing this,” she said. “What if someone brought a gun down there? What if someone brought a bomb down there? There is really nothing good that is going to come out of that event.”
Lahanas said he hopes the jail sentence will make students more aware that actions and participation in events like this have consequences.
“When people see this, they won’t think, ‘Hey, this isn’t that big of a deal,’” he said. “Maybe they’ll think, ‘Hey, we probably shouldn’t do this.”
Staff writer Sergio Martínez-Beltrán contributed to this report.