GV cancels 2021 Presidents’ Ball


GVL / Micah Hill

Mary Racette

Grand Valley State University’s annual Presidents’ Ball has officially been added to the long list of traditions that have been canceled due to COVID-19.

The Campus Activity Board, Office of Student Life and Student Senate usually co-sponsor the Presidents’ Ball for the GVSU Community. This year, the University aimed to keep the student’s best interest in mind when they decided that the night of food, dancing and socializing could not be safely held since it would not be able to comply with Michigan’s state orders. 

Associate Director of Student Life LeaAnn Tibbe said, “A lot of things came into play and we just knew it wouldn’t be safe for our students.”

In addition to the limitations regarding social distancing and capacity limits, DeVos Place Convention Center, the event’s typical venue, is currently occupied as a COVID-19 vaccination site. 

“It’s disappointing that Presidents’ Ball, like so many other things during COVID has to be canceled, but we are doing what we can to provide other activities during this semester,” said GVSU President Philomena Mantella. “I hope that instead of fancy clothes, we all put on hats and gloves and hit Winterfest going on until Valentine’s Day. This has been a year that has showcased our abilities to be resilient.”

While one tradition has been put on hiatus for 2021, another has resurrected. Once again, the GVSU community will celebrate Winterfest. This carnival-style festival will be held from Feb. 5-14 and involves a packed schedule of events for the community to participate in.

The choice to replace Presidents’ Ball with Winterfest was prompted by the success of the Haunted Arboretum, a Halloween event held last year. Since the late October event was held outside, Tibbe said about 800 students were able to safely participate. This motivated the University to organize Winterfest as another outdoor experience for students to enjoy. 

“Let’s celebrate what we can celebrate at Grand Valley, and that is being a community and being outdoors,” said Tibbe.

COVID-19 has led to disappointment surrounding the cancellation of the Presidents’ Ball, however, the Office of Student Life encourages students to stay involved with the community and engage in the safe events offered on campus.

“We want them to get out and be a part of the community,” Tibbe said. “We think this is a great way to boost their Laker spirit. I have talked to a lot of students who have been struggling with virtual learning, and so this is a chance for them to get out of their room and to just enjoy the nature and beauty of our campus.”

Boosting spirits has been one of the main focuses of the Office of Student Life this year. Along with collaborating with the Campus Activity Board to plan virtual or social distanced events, they have decorated the campus with lights, igloos and large “GVSU” letters.

According to the Presidents’ Ball page on GVSU’s website, they hope to return in 2022. Until then, updates for campus events and involvement can be found at www.gvsu.edu/studentlife.