Elementary education senior Michael “Mick” Haley said he has embraced benefits of his beard from the moment he discovered the first few hairs sprouting on his face. Now that he’s finishing up his fifth and final year at MSU, he said it’s time he use his beard to benefit others in the community.
Haley is the president of Beardsmen of MSU, a campus club he and his friends began in October.
The group is a manifestation of Haley and his friends’ desire to serve their community with the tactic they know best: facial hair.
He said the group’s goal is to inspire community involvement throughout MSU and the Lansing area, with facial hair serving as the stepping stone to do so.
“We want to try and get students out and about, doing good things in Lansing and East Lansing,” he said. “We mainly want to promote good citizenship and use facial hair as an excuse to get out and do it.”
Mechanical engineering sophomore Dave Cohle said he thinks the club is a unique opportunity, especially for the Spartans donning a well-developed beard.
“I could see (there being a bond among) people who actually have a nice, thick beard,” he said. “For me, it’s more like goatee or chinstrap — that’s pretty common. I can definitely see (a bond) for people who have a Grizzly Adams beard.”
The group has planned their first event at 7 p.m. on Dec. 1 at Harper’s Restaurant and Brewpub, 131 Albert Ave. The beard competition will serve as both a fundraiser for prostate cancer research and a way to celebrate the end of annual bearding tradition — No Shave November.
Animal science junior and Beardsmen of MSU secretary Jake Gillis said he’s looking forward to a chance to have facial hair coincide with community service. He said the event also poses an opportunity for women to get in on the action.
“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s really cool facial hair,” Gillis said. “We have categories for women in our beard competition, and I feel like they could have fun getting involved.”
In addition to the women’s fake beard category, Haley said the competition will feature categories such as full natural beard, best mustache and the November sprint — for those who have been growing out their facial fuzz solely for November.
Gillis said he has sported facial hair since he was able; when Haley approached him about the club, he was eager to get involved.
Haley also said he hopes the club will dissuade the negative connotations often associated with beards.
“There’s a whole list of things people associate with beards,” he said. “We want people to understand that it’s more than all the bad connotations.”
Haley said at this point, there aren’t many specifications to becoming an MSU “beardsman.”
“If you like (the club) and participate, you become a beardsman,” he said. “That’s what makes you a member.”