Student expelled from UMass after Super Bowl disturbance files federal lawsuit

A University of Massachusetts Amherst student who was quickly expelled after he was arrested in rowdy post-Super Bowl disturbances is challenging his expulsion in federal court.

Cullen Roe argues in a complaint filed in US District Court in Springfield that the university and its officials made an “arbitrary, unfair, intimidating, wrongful and unlawful decision to summarily expel a student who poses no imminent threat to anyone.”

The lawsuit argues, among other things, that the university violated Roe’s rights under state and federal law.


The suit also asked a judge to order the university to lift the expulsion, pay Roe compensatory damages, and pay his attorney’s fees.

Get Fast Forward in your inbox:
Forget yesterday's news. Get what you need today in this early-morning email.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

The suit said that a rowdy crowd of about 1,500 people gathered on the campus after the game “and allegedly fought, climbed trees, threw bottles, rocks, and ice, attempted to to tip over cars, lit fireworks, and started at least one fire.”

But Roe is not alleged to have done any of that, the suit said.

Instead, the suit said, a plainclothes officer in the crowd alleged that he saw Roe run toward uniformed police, yell a profanity at police, and challenge them to “bring it on.”

The officer identified himself and arrested Roe for failure to disperse and disorderly conduct.


“It is undisputed that Plaintiff made no effort to resist his arrest and was fully compliant as he was escorted to a nearby police van,” the suit said.

The suit said university officials expelled Roe under a provision that allows “interim restrictions” before formal disciplinary hearings for students who are “imminent threats.”

The suit said the university had never given Roe an explanation, in writing or in person, of how Roe was a threat to “anyone or anything” at the university.

UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.