Being a Laker in five words

Chris Slattery

Creative. Happy! Really? I suppose.

That is how I would describe myself in five words. The acrostic nature of these words is to highlight my creativity and the exclamation point is to let you know that YES! I AM VERY HAPPY! HENCE THE PUNCTUATION!

Grand Valley State University asked its students something similar this past month and now it is time to vote on it. Laker 5 is a chance for one of our very own to win a scholarship, simply for being brief. The contest asked any Laker to share their Laker pride in five words to be voted on. Submissions could range from “I love Grand Valley :)” to “Vote for my submission, dudes!”

See, we as a society are accustomed to being short with our words: Twitter gives us 140 characters with each tweet, Words With Friends only gives players seven letters to work with at a time and texting substitutes actual words with letters — “u” instead of “you” and “2” instead of “too,” which forced Irish rock band YouToo to change its name with the times. Microsoft Word even underlined that last sentence in a green squiggle, claiming it was “too long (consider revising)” as if I’m some sort of wordy miscreant who loves the look of his own sprawling, verbose writing style.

So it’s already very obvious why I did not submit — I physically can’t. I have hard enough of a time whittling my thoughts down to a twice-weekly 500-word format, let alone expression my love for this university in five words. Rambling is my thing, and Laker 5 does not tolerate long-winded responses.

GVSU has done so much stuff for me: it has helped shaped my life, my profession and my society and it would seem disingenuous to only write five words about it. I would likely end up saying something along the lines of “Five great years… and stuff.”

And even though no new submissions will be accepted, there are already huge amounts that range from high-school-yearbook-quote-cliches to weirdly specific references. Adjectives dominate the responses but the submissions are so diverse, it really emphasizes the creativity of the student body. Another possible submission: “You all know alotta words!”

In fact, you could almost think of these submissions like the first line of a GVSU haiku, with each word carefully selected for optimum usage. If only this literary analysis paper due tomorrow operated the same way…

The winners of the contest will be announced at the Presidents’ Ball on Feb. 17. Go for the awards, stay for the grinding that constitutes dancing these days.

Even if you didn’t submit your own personal Laker 5 response (I would have written about it sooner, but I really wanted to talk about 6 to 9s instead), you can go online to and pick the one that sounds like you could have written it.

I actually have one final submission, and it pertains to anyone who has picked up a Grand Valley Lanthorn: let’s all keep everyone reading.

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