Close the door. Turn down the music. Hide the Keystone Light. Many dorm residents know the routine when they hear a knock on the door after quiet hours.

But for a brief period in the 1970s, students in the dorms lived without the fear of being busted by a wandering resident adviser.

On Jan. 1, 1972, Michigan lawmakers reduced the legal drinking age from 21 to 18, and for about seven years – before a petition drive overturned the lax law in 1978 – college underclassmen got a taste of legal drinking.

In fact, many halls and houses sponsored keggers and mixers during this period.

Director of Student Legal Services Douglas Lewis graduated from the University in 1976.

Lewis said drinking was a part of dorm culture from his first experiences at summer orientation in 1972.

He recalled that his roommate strolled through the lobby of Alice Lloyd Residence Hall with a six-pack in hand, only to return to their room a few hours later with another.

“The room reeked of alcohol,” Lewis said.

Lewis also said students used the dorms’ layout when planning parties.

“There used to be progressive drinking parties in the dorms,” Lewis said. “You could start with beer on the first floor and end with hard liquor at the top.”

Dan Rankin, who graduated in 1976, spent his first two years at the University living in East Quad. He said that it wasn’t only alcohol that students indulged in during the laid-back ’70s.

“I think it would be fair to say that enforcement against either illegal drugs or legal alcohol in the dorms was also pretty lax back when I was at Michigan,” Rankin said.

Housing spokesman Peter Logan said the University has strengthened its enforcement of more stringent alcohol policies since the ’70s.

This change reflects state and federal laws that have been enacted since the ’70s that restrict drinking in on-campus housing.

Lewis argued that students’ irresponsible partying in the ’70s may be partly responsible for the reformed tolerance policies observed currently.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *