There has been lots of discussion of riots and other expected ill behavior in East Lansing. Although it pains me to do it, I must defend MSU students, at least a little bit, when it comes to their apparent penchant for getting unruly after a night of drinking. Ten years ago, I had a personal experience that shed some light on the issue, and I now believe there is more to it than simply a lack of control by their students. It's a long story, but entertaining and enlightening (at least I believe it is, or I wouldn't be typing it, right?)...
Back in 1999, during final four weekend, I was visiting a friend who attended MSU. On the Saturday night, after their loss, my friend and I went out to find some parties. We ended up in a couple of random apartments drinking beer. As the night was winding down, my friend and I were relaxing with beers in another random place, he on a couch talking to a girl, and I in the dining room talking to another very cute girl. Suddenly, there was a loud knock on the door. The girl I was talking to peered through the peep-hole, and rushed from the door saying the cops were outside. She was worried because she was only 19, and had been drinking. I looked around and saw no sign of the guy who lived there. I went to the door and opened it. The landlord and four cops were standing there demanding to see the resident. I told them I'd get the guy, and began to close the door. They refused to let me close the door, so I refused to walk away from the door, not wanting them to just wander in and look around. I stood there in a stand-off until the guy living there showed up behind me. The police immediately told him that he needed to shut the party down. Although there had been at least 50 people in the apartment earlier, the crowd had thinned to about 7 or 8 of us. The guy who lived there pointed out that there was almost no one there, and we were all just sitting around relaxing. The police told the guy that he needed to get rid of trouble-makers like me. ME! The guy tried to defend me, but I left voluntarily to keep from causing any further trouble for this stranger who had graciously opened his apartment (and his keg) to me.
End of story? Not a chance... As soon as I was outside, I was surrounded by the police. They immediately started shoving me toward the stairs of the apartment complex, demanding that I leave immediately. I consented and walked down the steps, my friend following behind me. Once onto the front sidewalk, we stopped to talk. The police then came down the steps and again got in my face, threatening to arrest me for trespassing. They were obviously looking to get a rise out of me. I pointed out that he was obviously on a power trip, then turned and walked away. Night over.
The lesson: I believe the police in East Lansing are at least partially to blame for their problems. They go into situations acting like the students are all criminals. When treated like criminals long enough, people start to act like criminals.