Originally published Nov. 10, 2013

Co-written with editorial board

Well, Grand Valley State University, it’s that time of year again. Battle of the Valleys is this week, and based on last year’s turnout, we think it’s a safe bet that many of you don’t even know what the cut-throat competition is—even though this year will be the 11th since the tradition started.

For those of you who don’t know, Battle of the Valleys is when the rivalry between GVSU and Saginaw Valley State University moves beyond the gridiron in a fundraising competition to benefit local charities. A week of campaigning and collecting donations is capped with perhaps the most spirited game of the football team’s season.

Last year, the Laker football squad fell to the Cardinals after having won seven straight games, but the end of an athletic streak wasn’t the worst of the 2012 competition. GVSU was painfully demolished in the fundraising race with an embarrassingly low donation rate.

SVSU raised around $30,000 for Great Lakes Bay Miracle League, while GVSU boasted a measly $1,100 for the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan. In other words, last fall’s 24,654 Lakers donated an average of 4.5 cents each, while the Cardinal student body of 10,552 averaged $2.86 apiece.

To compensate for this beat-down, GVSU has devoted more effort to fundraising this year. The Laker campaign is spearheaded by the Laker Traditions Team, which is a new group meant to help Student Senate with the organization of the competition. Although this team is specifically dedicated to making GVSU tradition events successful, it is seemingly unlikely that GVSU will beat the Cardinals in fundraising this year.

The Lakers’ 3-7 record for the competition—which includes a five-year losing streak—testifies to either a lack of interest or lack of awareness about the event on the part of the student body.

GVSU students are largely unaware that BoTV is a big event or even more than just a football game. With luck, GVSU will significantly increase the amount of money raised this year, but the Traditions Team faces a much bigger obstacle than just getting students to open their wallets. They need to explain to students what BoTV even is to begin with and then give them a reason to donate.

It’s certainly an encouraging start to be selling BoTV T-shirts that don’t look like they were made with clip art (like last year’s design), but it will take a lot more than that to overtake SVSU in the fundraising battle. More effort needs to be applied to get student feedback in order to host events that will attract students to attend and donate.

Traditions Team, you have your work cut out for you. We’re counting on you to help the Laker community redeem itself.

Laker community, pay attention to what’s happening in the valley, step up and donate. Don’t let ignorance of major school events or disinterest in involvement inhibit our school from not only snagging a victory, but from being taken seriously by our rivals.


Original publication: http://www.lanthorn.com/article/2013/11/battle-of-the-valleys