When most people think of East Lansing, they think of Michigan State University. MSU is a key part of East Lansing, but after looking past the 50,000 students that attend the college, there is a community of East Lansing residents.
For many long-term East Lansing residents, college students change with the seasons. There is a clear difference between when the school year ends and the summer begins.
Lt. Steve Gonzalez said the East Lansing Police Department adjusts for fewer students in summer by reducing staff.
“During the football season we will typically post overtime assignments for game traffic for a Friday or Saturday when we expect a heavy call load,” Gonzalez said. “During the summertime we don’t have to do that because the population is lower and we don’t have much traffic throughout town.”
MSU has a population of over 50,000 students during the fall and spring semesters. During the summer that number is cut to a little over 25,000.
Minimum staffing for the department is five officers and a supervisor during each shift. During the fall this number increases. Gonzalez said the typical issues during the fall and spring semesters are noise complaints and instances of alcohol-related offenses. He said during the summer months a set of different issues arise.
“Alcohol offenses and noise complaints dip way down in the summer, however what we do see increase during the summer a little bit are incidents of home invasion or damage to property, simply because the rental homes may not be occupied all of the time as people come and go from home to school or are working more often,” Gonzalez said.
Music coordinator for the Summer Solstice Jazz Festival Benjamin Hall said the decrease in students hurts attendance during big summer festivals.
“We run into trouble with there not being a lot of students on campus, so there is not a lot of attendance from students at the festival,” Hall said. “There are 20,000 students that are still on campus during the summer and I have been trying to find a way to tap into those students, but it has been difficult.”
City of East Lansing Community Events Specialist Heather Surface said the events she coordinates, one being the farmer’s market, have not seen bad attendance despite the lack of students.
“Usually we get more high school students than college students over the summer but it doesn’t affect us as much,” Surface said. “I really love seeing the smiling faces, especially at the farmers markets.”
Vice President for Gillespie Group Rachel Michaud said the group has two residential properties on campus: Midtown Lansing Apartments and The Beaumont Apartments. According to Michaud, the Midtown Apartments are primarily undergraduate students, while The Beaumont tends to be graduate students.
“The way we approach our leasing, it doesn’t have a huge impact on us other than the fact of what happens in the leases that we are looking to secure for the following school year diminishes greatly,” Michaud said. “It really pushes the winter to have active marketing when the students are in school.”
With 50,000 students who share parking spaces with the residents, parking on campus has always been a major issue.
PACE Supervisor Eldon Evans said parking enforcement slows down during summer months but the East Lansing parking enforcement does not see as big of an effect as MSU Parking Operations does.
“With fewer people in the area we have learned to expect this change during the summer months,” Evans said.
Office Supervisor and Manager of Parking Operations at MSU Lynnette Forman said in 2016 there were 15,503 parking violations issued in October and 2,941 in August.
“More parking violations are issued during the fall and spring semesters due to more vehicles being on campus during that time,” Forman said.
According to Forman, expired meter violations are the most common parking violation. In 2016 there were 51,790 expired meter violations issued.
Secretary of the PACE office Andrea Rodriguez said PACE deals with City of East Lansing code enforcement and parking violations but does not handle anything on campus.
“As far as code enforcement, such as the grass and different things that we deal with on the outside, that actually tends to increase between people saying the grasses aren’t mowed or there is litter on property,” Rodriguez said. “There are more people walking and spending time outside. With it being summer, there is a lot more activity going on with the residents.”
Students will arrive back on campus for the fall semester on Wednesday, Aug. 30.