As Grand Valley State University’s Battle of the Valleys fundraiser comes to a close after a three-year hiatus, the Student Senate reflects on its efforts to reignite campus awareness and excitement at the event.
Established in 2003, the Battle of the Valleys competition, hosted between rivals GVSU and Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU), is facilitated by the Grand Valley Student Senate and the Saginaw Valley Student Association. As part of the football match between the universities, the Student Senate and the Students’ Association have worked together to hold an annual fundraising competition that contributes to local philanthropy.
“I think Battle of the Valleys, in the minds of some older students, is just a football game and we really tried to reintroduce the fact that it is a two-part competition. said Student Senate Vice President for Public Relations Eldon Pearson. “It’s a fundraising competition as well as a football game.”
Although the annual Battle of the Valleys football game between GVSU and SVSU has only been canceled for one year in 2020 due to precautions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Battle of the Valleys fundraiser is absent from the scene since 2018. In order to collect aware of these two aspects, representatives of the Student Senate have taken a different approach to this year’s campaign.
“That’s what has been a big part of this week, sort of educating students on why we’re doing this against SVSU,” Student Senate President Autumn Mueller said. “I think the mentality of encouraging and getting the information out for everyone is something we really wanted to hammer home this week.”
Pearson stressed the importance of changing the Student Senate’s approach to the Battle of the Valleys.
“I think we started with the mentality that this was going to be a pivotal year for us, and we really wanted to rebrand as Battle of the Valleys and I think we did a really good job,” said Pearson. “Personally, I am satisfied with the progress and the results we have achieved. “
Obviously, so are student body members. While attending one of the Battle of the Senate Valleys events, GVSU freshman Olivia Rand saw the value of Student Senate work for students like her.
“So far, it’s been a really fun experience, in my opinion, for us to get to know other people and experience different things on campus,” Rand said.
Indeed, the philanthropic nature of Senate fundraising could mean that the community at large will soon be able to see its value as well. This year, the GVSU Student Senate chose I Understand – Love heals, a local organization based in Ada, Mich. that promotes suicide and mental health awareness, as a benefactor of its fundraising efforts.
“It has been great because we have received a lot of help from the Grand Rapids area, our beneficiary, campus officials and the entire Senate as well,” said Pearson.
Looking back on her experience with Battle of the Valleys, Mueller said she was thrilled to have the opportunity to rekindle the effort once again.
“For me to see him in freshman and now to see him in senior, it’s really exciting to see him again,” said Mueller. “It makes me happy to be here and I want the students to get involved because I’m involved, and I want them to share the same excitement. “
While the final amounts raised have yet to be finalized, Mueller is optimistic about the establishment made by the Senate business this year and how it could set the tone for the future.
“We hope that with this week what we’ve been doing through the publicity and all of our different events, we will increase and maintain that kind of excitement for years to come,” Mueller said.