MSU Meditations I: Intro

Officially starting this week (although it’s been going on all month, and there’s many who never left) hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of 18-30 year olds are filling in the apartments, dorms and houses that surround the colleges that are supposed to give them the education to improve their lives. In response:

  • Rents rise in the area, and sometimes outside the area, as landlords try to increase their take between taxes, insurance and city intrusion.
  • Liquor stores and bars prepare for the usual business rush that comes from the infusion of overmonied (and overcredited) students ready to throw themselves into a hard weekend’s drinking
  • Other businesses get ready to escape from the doldrums they’ve suffered through the summer
  • Campuses plan their parking patterns for the year’s football bacchanals
  • Cops start planning overtime, ready to spend their time hunting down “underage” drunks and others.

I’m sure there’s places where everything works out fine, where people go and do more than they ever dreamed of doing. I’m more concerned about one place. A place where I spent (too) much time in college, then another bunch of years profiting off of (paying during this time with taxes and support of local businesses). A place where I believe things have gone horribly wrong, and where things can go amazingly right IF THE PLACE REMEMBERS WHAT MADE IT GREAT IN THE FIRST PLACE.

The problems I’m going to talk about here happen all over. Many schools have similar problems to what I’m talking about. However, I’m going to focus on what I know and have loved: Michigan State University.

Sadly, the school has felt free to trade on its party-school reputation, with predictable results. Seems every time I hear about MSU in Chicago, it’s always in a severely negative light, as if everything bad about Chicago can be traced directly to MSU graduates.

I wonder if any other school goes through this. I once heard a mutilation of the OSU Fight Song by U of M graduates which included the couplet “at Columbus you’re way ahead/when you get straight A’s in Phys Ed;” I have to wonder whether they even feel the need to demean MSU folks when too many of them are too willing to demean themselves for fun and sport.

Part 2: Remembering MSU’s Past (and it’s shameful present)

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