Great Laker weekend encourages students to explore campus

Shae Slaughter

This past weekend, students were invited to do more than just study or catch up on some sleep when the Laker Traditions Team hosted Grand Valley State University’s first ever Great Laker Weekend. The concept of the weekend was a combination of Family Weekend, a more general Laker Weekend from years past, and the increased wish of the university for students to be able to be more involved.

“We used to have a thing called Laker Weekends, but we didn’t get a whole lot of turn out at events. We just really encourage students to stay on campus and enjoy Grand Valley, explore what GV has to offer,” said Daniel Ziegenfelder, programming chair for the Laker Traditions Team.

To help improve the turnout and showcase GVSU, members of the Laker Traditions Team, like Student Life graduate intern Brandon Shamoun, brainstormed over the summer and pulled the concept from Family Weekend. Family Weekend has done well as far as popularity in the past, so it was a good stepping stone for this new event.

“Great Laker Weekend is a way to showcase both Grand Valley’s Allendale and downtown campuses, but not just that, the surrounding communities,” Shamoun said. It began Friday, Sept. 30 and continued through Sunday, Oct. 2. The schedule constructed by the Laker Traditions Team had a variety of different things laid out, including a focus on ArtPrize, a tradition unique to Grand Rapids.

Ziegenfelder said he thought ArtPrize was one of the best events to attend during the weekend’s events.

“If students aren’t familiar with the arts, it’ll really help show them,” he said.

Students also had the opportunity to see a GVSU Shakespeare Festival and a Renaissance Fair, both put on by GVSU students, to help broaden their horizons. Along with that, events included a GVSU art gallery and rowing lessons.

Some events stood out from the arts-based theme that seemed to guide the rest of the schedule, including Rock the Vote. Both Shamoun and Ziegenfelder felt Rock the Vote was one of the best events thrown during the weekend. The premise of this specific event was helping students to register to vote, while also having Michigan-based bands perform live in the same area.

The Laker Traditions Team scheduled Rock the Vote right outside of Lubbers’ Stadium right before GVSU’s women’s soccer team took on Tiffin University. At that specific game, the university was also attempting to beat the attendance record for Division II women’s soccer making the Great Laker Weekend schedule organization beneficial to both voter registration and the soccer team.

Many events scheduled were free for everyone, some were free for GVSU students only, but the Laker Traditions Team also managed to partner with a couple different companies to get discounts on a few items. For example, students had access to discounted tickets to Cinderella presented by Broadway Grand Rapids for a reduced rate, which quickly sold out. They were also given the option to eat at Fresh Food Company on campus for a lower price than normal on Saturday, both during lunch and dinner.

Another Great Laker Weekend is scheduled for later this semester starting Friday, Nov. 11 and the format and theme is yet to be decided.