Most 21-year-old Spartans do not cavort through campus on a typical weekday in a drunken stupor, slugging vodka or handing out a 12-pack of beer to friends.
However, unbeknownst to many, especially those under that magic number, this is currently the right of every student of legal age. MSU is the only Big Ten school to allow open-alcohol consumption on campus, but this rule could soon be changed.
Concern about drinking on MSU property may turn into a ban on alcohol on campus, excluding tailgating and other “special occasions.” Although drinking openly on campus could become illegal, those of legal age would be able to drink within dorm rooms without penalty.
The laws about alcohol on campus differ from the surrounding community of East Lansing. With its own police force, MSU operates much like a small town, which includes creating its own laws. East Lansing ordinances do not even allow the possession of “an alcoholic beverage in an open container…in any public place or private area open to the public, except a licensed liquor establishment or elsewhere as provided by ordinance.” In addition, the East Lansing Police Department has the power to restrict tailgating and partying on community property.
“The MSU/East Lansing situation is like that of Canada/United States,” biology freshman Donna Bozgan said. “The laws are different. That doesn’t make one right and the other wrong, and there is certainly no need to change one for the other.”
According to the MSU Department of Police and Public Safety, there are punishments for driving drunk on campus and causing disturbances while drunk, including fines ranging from $100-500, minimal jail time or both. But the consumption of alcoholic beverages on MSU property among those 21 and up is perfectly legal.
The idea of making MSU a dry campus was brought up at the Jan. 11 Board of Trustees meeting, but it is not a new issue. In a recent statement, MSU spokesman Terry Denbow said there is a need for MSU to conform to the rest of Big Ten universities and to the area communities. The Board of Trustees will vote on the issue on Feb. 11.
“Whatever [the board] decides to do, the same amount of drinking is going to go on,” mechanical engineering sophomore Josh Ewing said. “Some law is not going to stop it. People will just drink faster in their rooms and then go out drunk.”
Human nutrition sophomore Michelle Mingay disagrees with the increased anxiety over alcohol use on campus grounds. “I think that MSU having a dry campus is a bad idea,” Mingay said. “Making [alcohol consumption] more publicized will probably make it more of a problem than it was before.”
Tailgating has already been altered this year, with the prohibition of drinking games and the accompanying paraphernalia, as well as the restriction of tailgating time to five hours before the kickoff and two hours following the conclusion of the game. One has to wonder how long this promise of allowing alcohol consumption at tailgating events will actually hold up.
Some students agree with the ban, claiming it will cast the school in a more positive light. “[A dry campus] would create a better image for our school,” Ewing said. “I, as a Spartan, was not proud to see all the empty beer cans scattered about campus during the football season.”
Spartans everywhere want to present a dignified, respectable image to other universities and guests on campus. While banning alcohol aims to eliminate its presence around campus, the Board of Trustees still cannot control what goes on behind closed doors, on and off MSU property.
For more information on MSU and East Lansing laws and punishments involving alcohol, visit

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