Packaging group faces university restrictions

Members of MSU student organization CoPPAC, or Coalition of Packaging Professionals and Academic Connections, are facing some limitations by the university after an incident involving alcohol consumption at an alumni event in Chicago in late October.

A combination of about 100 students, an open bar and minimal effort to check identification or wristbands led to some members of CoPPAC getting somewhat out of control at the MSU Packaging Alumni Association PackExpo 2012 Alumni Reunion at a Hard Rock Cafe in Chicago, said CoPPAC Vice President Spencer Rice.

“After the event, leaders with MSU’s School of Packaging were made aware that several students may have acted inappropriately at a hotel and during the bus ride back from Chicago,” university spokesman Kent Cassella said in an email. “While there were no reports of any crimes nor was law enforcement involved, school leaders met with the CoPPAC student executive board and asked students to take several steps to ensure future events did not involve inappropriate behavior.”

Although Rice did not detail any specific behavior that individuals engaged in during the incident, he said some members of the group did board the bus for the return trip to East Lansing that night while still intoxicated and said some members might have gotten sick on the bus.

Rice said members of the packaging school reached out to the group expressing disappointment with the behavior brought on by the alcohol consumption at the event.

He said those who approached members of CoPPAC’s executive board about the event also were worried this behavior might have an impact on the students involved because they might run into professionals who were at the event in the future when looking at jobs.

Rice said in a letter from Director of the School of Packaging and Center for Packaging Innovation and Sustainability Joseph Hotchkiss, CoPPAC was told it couldn’t host any more social events for the rest of the semester and to replace any currently scheduled events with volunteer opportunities.

He said the group also was required to write numerous apology letters and create parameters that would prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future, including limiting the number of students allowed to attend to about 50.

The group also was informed they would be unable to host their Packaging Jamboree in the spring, although Rice said the group is working to regain that privilege.

“I think we definitely deserved what we got,” Rice said.

The State News was unable to obtain the letter sent to CoPPAC by press time, although Cassella was able to confirm some of the group’s resulting restrictions.

Hotchkiss was unwilling to address discussions he had with the group and Rice was unable to provide a copy of the letter.

Hotchkiss said he was at the event in Chicago and “didn’t witness anything.”

Rice said CoPPAC still is deciding if the specific individuals who acted out on the trip will be punished further by the group, but no one will be asked to leave the organization.

Outside of the consequences and incidents themselves, this occurrence is a an example set for other student groups, Rice said.

“This isn’t going to happen again … Plans are put into place,” Rice said. “(And behavior at these professional events is) something that people really need to take into consideration.”

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