Spartans celebrate with fire following Saturday’s big win

Monday, December 7, 2015, 12:48 pm
By: 
Caitlin Leppert

Crowd at Cedar Village, image from Twitter

Saturday night was a big win for the Michigan State Spartans, but not all students ended the evening on a positive note. Eight students were arrested in Cedar Village for alcohol-related violations after students flooded the streets and lit couches on fire to celebrate the Big Ten Championship victory.

ELPD’s Lt. Wriggelsworth said thirteen fires took place Saturday night after the game. The fires occurred in predominantly student-rental areas of East Lansing, including Cedar Village as well as North Harrison.

“Shortly after the game ended a crowd of about 2,000 gathered in Cedar Village,” he said. “A lot of the kids actually ran there from neighboring dorms.”

In the past, Cedar Village has been home to riotous behavior known among students as “Cedar Fest.” Michigan State University has taken a strong stance against such behavior. On Friday, the official MSU Facebook page shared an image warning students, “No one is anonymous,” and encouraging safe and legal victory celebrations.

East Lansing law enforcement also anticipated the potential for couch burnings, and implemented precautionary measures of their own including implementing new body cams.

Katelyn Brolick, a junior at MSU, said a P.A.C.E officer came to her house on Charles Street last Monday, and asked that she and her roommate remove the couch that had been discarded in her backyard.

“He just came up to the door and he was like ‘is this your couch’ and we said ‘no, it’s our neighbor’s,’ and he said, ‘can you call your landlord and have him remove it, because we don’t want it to get burned on Friday.’ If it wasn’t gone, he said we would get a ticket.”

The combined efforts between Michigan State University and East Lansing law enforcement did not discourage all students from participating in dangerous and illegal behaviors following the game, but perhaps kept the events from escalating out of control.

Lt. Wriggelsworth said Saturday night’s events did not classify as a riot. The students arrested will face alcohol-related charges, rather than the more serious charges that arise in the occurrence of a riot.

“Most of the students will get an MIP or Drunk and Disorderly,” he said. “Typically, what we do in those situations is we get the most egregious offenders out of there and that allows the situation to resolve itself. The ones exposing themselves, or throwing beer cans or climbing up properties.”

The events Saturday night might not be classified as a riot, but Kirstie Liakos, an MSU senior, said she did not feel safe in her Cedar Street home with thousands of people just outside her door.

Liakos said she was scared her car or house might be damaged.

“I was panicking,” she said. “My house smelled like a bonfire.”

Between midnight and 1:20 a.m., Liakos watched students gather in the street, lighting objects on fire, setting off fireworks and cheering for the Spartans.

“I hated it,” she said.

One MSU senior, who requested to remain anonymous, said he participated in such behavior last year, following another big win. He said there was no real reason to participate, except that “everyone was doing it.”

“I used to live in Cedar Village, and it started with lighting a football on fire,” he said. “Then we just kind of escalated from there. My crew was doing it so I hopped in. I was drunk, and I was hype, and we were just in the moment.”

Michigan State Football and Men’s Basketball are each ranked third in the country — Spartans are good at winning. Michigan State University and East Lansing law enforcement are working to make sure Spartans are just as good at celebrating.