Expelled student sues UMass

By Dan Glaun

Cade Belisle/Collegian

Editor’s note: This article originally stated that Cullen Roe was interviewed by CBS 3. It has been corrected to indicate that the quote in question is from court documents.

 

The consequences of Super Bowl Sunday’s rowdy disturbance in Southwest Residential Area found their way to federal district court Thursday, as a University of Massachusetts student who was expelled for his actions in the Feb. 5 gathering filed suit against the University.

Cullen Roe, a former UMass sophomore, is suing the University, Dean of Students Enku Gelaye and Associate Dean of Students David Vaillancourt, alleging that his Feb. 7 expulsion was an “arbitrary, unfair, intimidating, wrongful and unlawful’’ violation of both the code of student conduct and the U.S. Constitution, according to the Associated Press. The suit calls for monetary damages and readmission, according to the AP.

Roe was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and failure to disperse after a plainclothes police officer overheard him yelling “[expletive] the police” and challenging officers to “bring it on,” according to crime reports from the University of Massachusetts Police Department.

The gathering following the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss brought hundreds of students into the courtyard outside Berkshire dining commons for a raucous demonstration that was broken up within minutes by riot police. Fourteen people were arrested that night, 13 of them UMass students, according to a statement made by UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski following the disturbance.

Roe’s lawsuit states that there was no hearing prior to his expulsion, and that he received a letter from Gelaye stating that he was being removed from campus as an “interim restriction” because his actions represent an “imminent threat” to school safety, according to the AP.

The lawsuit also says that the University violated Roe’s right to due process of law by expelling him without a hearing, according to the AP. The consequences of the expulsion, according to the lawsuit, include Roe’s inability to complete classes and receive credit for the spring semester as well as forfeiture of the tuition, fees and rent that he has already paid to the University.

Roe’s family declined to comment when contacted by the Collegian.

According to the Code of Student Conduct, students may be summarily suspended prior to a disciplinary hearing only if they are “an imminent threat to himself or herself, to others, or to property, or the cause of serious imminent disruption to the University community.” In addition, students who are the subject of such restrictions must be able to meet with administrators to state their case prior, whenever possible, to the imposition of the restrictions.

“Dean Vaillancourt made no effort to explain how I represented an imminent threat to anyone or anything at the University,” wrote Roe in court papers according to CBS 3.

Roe’s case “is expected to appear in Federal Court in Springfield on Wednesday,” according to CBS 3.

The aftermath of the disturbance has drawn reaction across campus. The UMPD posted photographs of unidentified participants online and asked the campus community for information that could lead to their arrest. The Student Government Association, after discussions with administrators about how to handle the incident, sent an email Friday to the campus community criticizing the “disruptive actions” that occurred after the game.

Blaguszewski said that he could not comment on the details of the suit.

“We do not as a policy discuss pending litigation,” he said. “We don’t discuss details of any particular individual student disciplinary matters.”

Dan Glaun can be reached at [email protected]