400 U students arrested in fraternity fund-raiser

Anna Weggel

University and Minneapolis police arrested more than 400 students on or near the University’s Minneapolis campus Tuesday, a fraternity member said.

Each student, held on at least $50 bail, was a participant in Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s 10th year of Jail ‘n Bail, a charitable event benefiting Special Olympics Minnesota.

For $5 each, students, faculty and staff members filled out arrest warrants Monday for whomever they wanted arrested. On Tuesday, fraternity members and police officers tracked down the culprits and brought them via squad car or detoxification van to a tent in front of Northrop Auditorium.

Former Minnesota Vikings all-pro player Matt Blair, Special Olympics Minnesota volunteer spokesman, played the role of a judge at Northrop and decided the amount of each arrestee’s bail.

“You’re taller than I am, so that’s going to cost you at least 10 bucks more,” Blair said to liberal arts student Nick Sawyer. Blair charged him $60 for loitering around campus.

“My purpose in life is helping people,” Blair said.

After sentencing, arrestees made phone calls requesting family and friends to make donations to the Special Olympics.

“Dad, I’ve been arrested,” said economics sophomore Betsy Clevenstine, who was arrested from a study lounge in her sorority. “I need $40.”

Police and fraternity members waited outside classrooms, sororities and residence halls and picked up students walking on campus. They did not take students out of classrooms, said Judd Platz, events coordinator for Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

Police officers and fraternity members woke up first-year biology student Rachel Salzmann in her bedroom.

“I hid under my bed,” Salzmann said. She was eventually handcuffed and taken away in a detoxification van, she said.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon member Tony Biel and Minneapolis police officer Rich Sheldon started Jail ‘n Bail in 1995, according to the fraternity. They wanted to improve the relationship between law enforcement and fraternities while raising money for a good cause.

The event made more than $20,000 Tuesday, fraternity officials said.

The funding the event raises has been steadily increasing every year, making more than $100,000 for Special Olympics during the last nine years.

Platz said his fraternity would be satisfied with any amount of money made.

“Any little bit we can get that we know helps is a success in our eyes,” he said.

Minneapolis police officer Reid Brown enjoyed volunteering at the event.

“I think it’s a great fund-raiser for a great cause,” he said.

Minneapolis police officer Amy Caspus agreed and said the event is a great “change of pace” from their normal days on the job.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon members said they expect more donations to be made today.