Letter to the editor: In response to ‘Following the Battle of the Valleys Funds’

Maddie Cleghorn

In an article of last week’s Lanthorn entitled “Following the Battle of the Valleys Funds,” there were a number of questions entertained that I feel compelled to address regarding the fundraising efforts during Battle of the Valleys (BOV).

The Laker Children’s Fund was created two years ago for the purpose of establishing a consistent cause to support during BOV. One of the largest reasons Grand Valley State University has struggled to raise more than Saginaw Valley State University is because over the years, we have had to spend so much time re-educating students about what charity is being donated to each year. With the Laker Children’s Fund, we do not have to spend our minimal resources promoting a new charity every year, because eventually, students will know where the money is being donated just by name recognition.

The process of applying for funds is quite simple. Contrary to the article’s statement that there was never a plan in place to distribute the funds, the mission and vision since the fund’s establishment has always been to aid local organizations who support the education and well-being of children. The form to apply for funding, as well as the Laker Children’s Fund Constitution and guidelines can be found on the BOV website.

Once an organization submits an application, it brings the request to a board consisting of the student senate vice president for finance, the Laker Traditions Team programming chair, a student senator, a Laker Traditions Team member, the associate director for the Office of Student Life, and one representative from University Development. This board carefully reviews the request and then votes on whether or not to grant funding.

One of the best parts about BOV is that it is driven by students. That is also what makes it challenging to be consistent each year, with leadership turning over so quickly. Anyone who has done significant work at the university knows that to do a job well, you have to have the patience with the sometimes slow-moving pace of academia.

While it did take a while to set up the logistics to distribute the funds, we are pleased that there is now a stable, reliable, transparent process. I am incredibly grateful for the collaborative efforts of student senate, the Laker Traditions Team, and the Future Alumni Association who took the initiative to establish the details of the process this year so that future BOV leaders can focus solely on fundraising efforts.

My team and I knew that BOV needed a face lift this year. To be very honest, we did seriously consider the option of dropping out of the fundraising competition. Eight years of losing to SVSU? Of course that hurts! The catch, though, and the reason we made the decision to remain dedicated to the competition, is that no one is actually losing in this part of BOV. How can anyone lose, when two communities are both benefiting from thousands of students coming together in order to raise money for a cause they are passionate about?

In the 13 years since the start of the BOV competition, GVSU and SVSU have raised a combined total of over $500,000 for their respective communities and charities of choice. In my book, that is a pretty significant win for both sides. The reality is that if GVSU chose to back out of BOV, this far-reaching community impact would be greatly lessened, if not completely eliminated. That is why, despite a few complaints about losing another year, we chose to compete.

I cannot predict what the future holds for BOV. I can say with confidence however, that there is a young, passionate and ambitious group of leaders at both institutions who are very excited to continue the rivalry and the fundraising competition. After all, BOV at GVSU is, at its very core, a spirited week of Laker pride, tradition, rivalry, community and giving back, and that is what being a Laker is all about.