There is a long history behind MSU's Social Norms Campaign, which dates back to the late 90's. You might remember that infamous riot in May 1998 on our campus, which led to lots of property damage (including several burnt couches) and not only many angry East Lansing residents, but also angry MSU students whose reputations had been tarnished by the bad behavior of a few. After that happened, the MSU President formed what he called an "Action Team" to address issues related to the kind of extreme drinking that was involved with the riot. This team came up with 33 recommendations, one of which suggested the creation of a message campaign to lower alcohol-related harm.
The Action Team didn't want to use a campaign that urged students to stop drinking entirely, because they that understood drinking alcohol was not the problem; the real issue was drinking in a high risk manner. And they didn't want to try and scare students into drinking less, either. So, they decided to encourage drinking in moderation and to tell students about ways they could protect themselves. This decision led them to the idea of a social norms approach, which had been successful at reducing harm from drinking on other college campuses. Olin Health Center, the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, University Media Relations, and the Department of Communication were called to action, and soon began creating the campaign, which was first distributed in 2002 and is still going strong today.