Originally published Aug. 25, 2013
Grand Valley State University’s Office of Student Life has put student events back into student hands with the development of a new Traditions Team to coordinate all major events this year.
“(The OSL) decided to have a more uniform way to get events and Grand Valley’s traditions out to students and have a team of event coordinators working on it as a whole,” said senior Alyssa Smith, chair of the group.
Smith leads the team of 13 regular staff, two event assistants and multiple volunteers to coordinate nine events: Presidents’ Ball, Homecoming, Battle of the Valleys, Sibs and Kids Weekend, the Laker for Lifetime kickoff, Laker Remembrance, Family Weekend, the intercultural festival and a Spring Fling.
“It was all to ensure the alignment of these events (and) that they’re all set up similarly and have the same level of success,” said sophomore Tyler Ziola, the team’s social media coordinator. “That’s why they did it—so there’s this concrete team year to year doing this.”
Director of Student Life Michelle Burke said the development of the team is not in response to last year’s Battle of the Valleys results, which saw Saginaw Valley State University conquer GVSU in the fundraising battle.
“The formation of the team actually had more to do with Homecoming,” Burke said. “Student Life had tried with limited success for the last several years to form a student Homecoming Committee to plan and coordinate all of the events related to that week. In addition, we also wanted more student involvement in the traditions of Family Weekend, Sibs and Kids, and Intercultural Festival. All of these events were consuming staff time for event planning rather than allowing us to advise students to plan the events.”
With the exception of the new Laker Remembrance and Spring Fling, the events were previously run by the OSL and Student Senate, who will still remain involved to some extent.
Members of the OSL advise the team leaders on all events, while the Student Senate retains an active role in planning Presidents’ Ball and Battle of the Valleys.
Emma Moulton, a senator on the Traditions Team, said the shift in event coordination from Student Senate to the team was a “group effort.”
“It didn’t make sense to have two of (the major events) not run by the Traditions Team,” Moulton said. “We decided just to have the Traditions Team do all of them.”
Moulton said senators helped with the first kickoff event for freshmen and will continue to stay involved in every event by advertising and providing funds.
“The reason we are helping with it now is because student senators are there for student government—they’re not event coordinators, so were there to help them with the event coordinating process,” Smith said. “They still have a say. They still selected what nonprofit for Battle of the Valleys. They still selected the theme, and actually the event coordinator for Presidents’ Ball is on Senate and on our team.”
Although the events are now headed by a new group of students with fresh ideas, most will remain similar to previous years.
Battle of the Valleys is the exception.
“Battle of the Valleys is completely new,” Ziola said. “It’s going to be revamped, relaunched and it’s going to be incredible this year.”
Smith said the team will expand the tradition by adding new events throughout the week to increase student involvement.
“Our goal is to raise $25,000, and it’s not just going to be focused on t-shirt sales or a day of football,” Smith said. “We have events set up. For the whole week we have a different event, and we also have a kickoff in October for it.”
The Traditions Team is also taking on the complete development of two new traditions.
Laker Remembrance will begin this year and is meant to honor Lakers who have died with a candlelight vigil. The other new tradition, the Spring Fling, is still in the works, but Smith said it will be a sort of end-of-the-year kickoff event similar to those at the beginning of the year.
Ziola said that students who wish to be involved with the Traditions Team can start volunteering with the group now in order to be better known during the application and interview process.
The website is still in the works but can soon be found on the OSL website.
Original publication: http://www.lanthorn.com/article/2013/08/new-traditions-team-takes-charge-of-school-events