Each year Niche publishes annual college rankings; their lists cover everything from best athletic life to best in academics. This year, Western Michigan University was ranked the fourth best party school in Michigan—following Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, and Central Michigan University respectively.
70 percent of the scoring process is calculated from self-reported scores and reviews from Niche users, according to the list creators. The majority of said reviews fall into the “Very Good” category, with past and present students citing the beautiful atmosphere of the campus, how friendly everyone is, and the vast array things to do on and off campus. In addition to the numerous clubs and events constantly happening on campus, Kalamazoo also has a number of great places to check out. One of which being The Den Partystore located across from the main campus.
“Our location is key to our success, it’s convenient for students to walk to when they need a study break,” Matt Warren, a manager at the Den, said. “We try to keep the environment stocked with everything they [students] need to have a great time.”
The shelves are always stocked with everything from snack food, Bronco apparel, games, and alcohol, according to Warren. Though the latter in this list can often cause some problems for WMU police. The number of Minor in Possession offenses (MIP) on or near campus has, over the past few years, seen a significant increase, according to Officer Andrew Bachmann of the WMU Public Safety department—so much so, that Bachmann, as well as the other officers in the department, are trying to be much more strict when it comes to these offenses.
“Our goal is keep students safe,” Bachmann said. “We understand that students like to have a great time and we’re in favor of that, but when the boundaries are pushed just a little too far, innocent fun can quickly turn into a lot of physical and legal trouble.”
A first MIP offense is most often just fine, though the court can potentially order alcohol testing, counseling or classes if they find it necessary. A secondary offense, holds these same consequences, but can also mean up to 30 days in jail or on probation, according to Michigan state guidelines.
“The most common scenario we see is an underage student drinking at party where alcohol was provided by an older student,” Bachmann said. “Sometimes it’s without the [older] student’s knowledge, but regardless, anytime there’s an underage person using or possessing [alcohol] everyone on the scene is liable.”
Bachmann also points to fake identification cards and stores not properly carding for age-restricted products as potential problems. Warren agreed, adding that they make sure to check IDs and verify that they are legitimate at the Den.
“We don’t want anyone to get into trouble or get hurt, but as a business, if it’s determined that we sold to a minor, our entire business is just as liable,” Warren said. “We love the students, we love the community of Kalamazoo, and we want to legally allow them to have a great time, which means preventing students from illegally doing so.”
With all the other clubs at WMU, the Greek life scene, and the friendly community of people, Bachmann and Warren agree, that the temptation is definitely there. However, they also point to these same things as the reason alcohol isn’t necessary.
“There’s a lot to do on campus and there’s great people,” Bachmann said. “but it’s kind of [a] double-edged sword because it increases the temptation. Students need to be aware of it, look out for each other, and make the best decisions for their future.”