Michigan State University: 'Don't get burned' in celebrations

University warns students not to take part in riotous activities ahead of basketball game

"Cedar Fest" in 2008 at Michigan State University.
"Cedar Fest" in 2008 at Michigan State University. (WDIV/ClickOnDetroit.com)

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State University is warning students not to take part in "destructive gatherings and burning furniture" ahead of Friday night's basketball game.

The warning comes before the men's basketball team is scheduled to play in the NCAA tournament's "Sweet Sixteen" round Friday night against Oklahoma University. The game will be played in Syracuse, N.Y., but large crowds are expected to gather to watch the game in and around the East Lansing campus.

The city and campus have a tortured history of "riots" after university sporting events. In 2005, when the basketball team lost in the NCAA tournament's "Final Four" round, police clashed with a crowd in East Lansing. Thousands of dollars in damages were reported.

In 2008, in what was actually a non sports-related event, dozens of arrests were made in a large, destructive gathering called "Cedar Fest" at the Cedar Village apartments on campus. Thousands of dollars in damages were reported that night, too, after fires broke out and cars were vandalized. More than 50 people were arrested, many of which were Michigan State students. Police arrested 52 people and issued 48 tickets that night. About half of each were Michigan State students. At least six students were suspended from the university.

In 2013, some of the on-campus celebrations got out of hand again after Michigan State's football team beat Ohio State in the Big Ten football Championship. Police made multiple arrests -- at least 15 -- and responded to multiple fires.

This time, the university is trying to get out ahead of any riotous activities.

"Taking part in destructive gatherings and burning furniture are NOT Spartan traditions," a university pamphlet reads. "These types of events are an embarrassment to our community and our university. Don't allow your degree to be devalued."

Michigan State is giving students "need-to-know" messages for "how to celebrate safely."