As students return from winter break with resolutions to join a new club or organization, many flock to Grand Valley State University’s Campus Night Life, which was held in the Kirkhof Center on Friday, Jan. 11. While the event featured many of GVSU’s 400+ organizations, just as the fall semester’s Campus Life Night did, many organizations came into the winter event with different goals.
Kaitlyn Richardson, Vice President of Student Technicians and Actors Guild for Entertainment (STAGE), said that recruitment is a common goal for organizations, but STAGE aims to both share information and club pride. The key step in doing so, Richardson said, is putting yourself out there and engaging with students.
“Last year, I only came (to Campus Life Night) to find STAGE, so I didn’t want to talk to any other clubs because I’m uncomfortable sometimes,” Richardson said. “So, I think making that awkward eye contact at first and starting a conversation is really important.”
Student Senate Vice President of Campus Affairs Carter Engler said that senate usually attends the first Campus Life Night to encourage new voices to join empty seats. This time around, Engler said that there are less seats to fill, so their goal is to connect with as many students as possible to better represent the student body.
“Not only do we get to see students who we don’t get to see on a regular, daily basis who are willing to come up not only to get information from us, but (they can) give us more information about themselves and what’s going on around campus,” Engler said. “We have a suggestion box where students can write down whatever they please, whether it’s an issue, something cool they see around campus or something we should work on.”
Members of Alpha Kappa Phi, a co-ed academic business fraternity, took a different approach to the night, with Vice President of Finance Janique Giles saying that the goal of her smaller fraternity is to make their mark. Being a lesser-known fraternity on campus that is open to anyone, she said that letting students know the fraternity exists it the main goal.
“(Campus Life Night) is an amazing opportunity that GVSU is offering organizations here,” Giles said. “It really gives a shot to (both) large and small organizations. (Students) don’t think about the academic fraternities; they think about the more social ones. There’s some amazing academic or professional organizations on campus.”
While students saw many familiar clubs, less recognizable was the Student Activities Board, a recent merger of Laker Traditions and Spotlight. Student Activities Board president Sabrina Somers said that in addition to promoting President’s Ball and Sibs & Kids Weekend, the Student Activities Board is trying to raise awareness that while they are “something new,” they’re also “something exciting.”
Somers said that Campus Life Night shaped her club experience at GVSU, so she tries to provide the same experience to those in attendance.
“I’ve been coming to Campus Life Night every year since I was a freshman, so it’s always been my favorite event,” Somers said. “I just like engaging with people and teaching them about something new, because that’s how I learned about Spotlight.”
Members of Global Citizens, a club that “advocates for sustainability through education and economic sustainability” said that Campus Life Night provides them with an opportunity to support more refugees, President John Bancheri said. The club, which travels to the Refugee Education Center in Kentwood, is in dire need of more volunteers to support a surge of refugees.
“Our success is (measured) by as many people as we can get to sign up,” Bancheri said. “Especially with the Refugee Education Center, they need a lot more volunteers, so that’s really our main goal: to get a lot of volunteers. There’s 200 more refugee students that we could be having at the center, but we have an inadequate amount of volunteers.”
Regardless of why students and organizations attend Campus Life Night, Engler said it’s a treat to have an event like it on campus.
“(Campus Life Night) is a great time,” Engler said. “Not only should students check out student senate, but all the different organizations we support. (Having more than) 300 organizations is an amazing thing that not every campus has, so taking advantage of that is really something awesome.”