More than 300 students arrested for Jail ‘n’ Bail charity event

Robyn Repya

Until Tuesday morning, marketing freshman Lisa Hartley had never been arrested.

That all changed when friends pulled her out of a West Bank biology class to meet a uniformed police officer. Hartley and another classmate were then handcuffed and led to a squad car.

“I always wanted to know what it felt like,” she said of her arrest.

Hartley’s arrest was part of the eighth annual “Jail ‘n’ Bail” event – put on by the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity with the help of off-duty University police officers – to raise money for Special Olympics Minnesota.

Students purchased warrants for their friends, faculty and co-workers, who were then arrested on campus.

The arrested were brought to Northrop Plaza, given pizza and a cell phone and held until they could raise at least $50.

The more than 300 students arrested raised more than $16,000.

Communications senior Ed Smelser wasn’t arrested for the event, but his dog Charlie was.

“I am the legal guardian,” he said. “I still haven’t found out what the charges are.”

Smelser said neither he nor a family member had ever been arrested before, but he didn’t mind.

He said Charlie, a beagle-spaniel mix, was successful in soliciting donations.

“We were supposed to do $50, but we’ve raised $100,” Smelser said.

Marketing sophomore Amy Peckman was arrested both this year and last.

“It’s really fun,” she said. “It’s a great way to build positive relationships back up between police officers and students – especially after last weekend.”

University police Detective Marianne Scheel has participated in the event for the past three years and said it’s a great way for students to break through stereotypes and see police in a friendly light.

“This event is pretty fun because usually people are pretty enthusiastic,” she said.

Scheel teased handcuffed students in the back of the squad car, pretending she had misplaced the keys for the cuffs.

She said everyone at the University has been positive about the event.

“Usually students are more fun to arrest – they go more willingly,” she said.

After professors complained last year about students being arrested in class, Scheel said, police would not be entering classrooms.

Scheel said although she’d rather go into classrooms, it’s important to be respectful of complaints to ensure the event can continue in the future.

Mary Kay Hokanson, Special Olympics Minnesota development director, said the event started initially to improve relations between police and students but has turned into more.

“It’s the largest fund-raiser done on the University,” she said.

Hokanson said the money raised means a lot to the 65,000 Special Olympics athletes in the state.

She said their experience in the games gives them a sense of confidence and teamwork they wouldn’t have otherwise.

“It carries through their whole life,” Hokanson said.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon member Kyle Lametti, a construction management junior and co-chairman of the event, said he got involved because it benefits a worthy cause.

He said the event is also a great chance for students not familiar with fraternity activities to get involved.

“A lot of people don’t see the good things fraternities do, they only see the partying,” Lametti said.

Robyn Repya welcomes comments at [email protected]