The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Professional Society for Minorities in Honors fosters community on campus

GVL | Sam Nelson

With the end of October quickly approaching, Halloween events fill Grand Valley State University’s campus. Cozied up around a fire with dim lighting, The Professional Society for Minorities in Honors (PSMH) hosted its Haunted Storytelling Night on Oct. 25 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. to get students into the spooky spirit and share stories. 

“(Our) focus as a club is really about connecting students and individuals across campus. We really want events that bring people together, and kind of force us to learn more about each other and just to connect in multiple different ways,” said Elora Ferrie, PSMH president. 

For the event, the club brought in professional storyteller Tiyi Schippers, to share her personal scary stories and set the Halloween mood. The event was hosted in the Multicultural Room within the Frederik Meijer Honors College. She has been sharing her stories since the 1980s and describes herself as a storyteller, artist, poet, writer and producer of the weird. Schippers often goes by the name of Spooky Ms. Tiyi, after building a following on social media as she shared her stories on her platforms during the pandemic to keep her family across the country connected. 

“Everybody was far apart, and I suggested that I do Sunday night spooky stories. And so I did them on Facebook Live, and then I would record them and put them up on YouTube,” Shippers said. 

Schippers bases her stories on real-life events and encounters she has experienced. She said her craft is not built on making up anecdotes or telling folktales. She describes her stories as “anomalous experiences.”

“I don’t call them paranormal because for me they’re very normal, I only talk about my own personal experiences as stories, and that’s what I write about as well,” Schippers said. 

At the event, Schippers shared stories of growing up with her nine siblings in a house outside of Chicago, that she regarded as haunted. She said she endured strange things in a bar after its closing and a reported ghoul lady pushing her down the stairs as a child. 

One of the important aspects of performing that Schippers mentions is the connection she can make with the audience. Being able to read a room of people is important to how she decides what stories and specific details she feels compelled to tell. Oftentimes, audience members will come to share their anomalies with Schippers afterward.

“We can connect because most of us have had experiences that we can’t quite make heads or tails of,” Schippers said. 

Ferrie said the organization wanted the focus of the event to be communication and connection which reflect the new goals of the PSMH. 

“(The club) is pivoting to focus more on interconnecting (students) across campus,” Ferrie said. 

Ferrie said when students come to college they many feel completely alone in a room full of people. The club aims to hopefully bridge this gap and bring people together to a shared space. 

“Our goal is to do that on the Grand Rapids campus (as well), but then also to connect further with the Grand Rapids community,” Ferrie said.

With these connections, the club hopes to help students integrate into their new community at GVSU and make the transition smoother. The PSMH is collaborating with the Division of Inclusion and Equity on campus to spread this idea through other on-campus organizations.

The PSMH has plans to continue hosting events that will provide the same environment and connection as the Haunted Storytelling event, with upcoming occasions such as a karaoke mixer, volunteer events and collaborating with other organizations.

Having started in the Honors College, now expanding through campus and hopefully, the surrounding area, Ferrie describes the PSMH as a student-led “live and in-person Laker link” to help foster those connections.

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