In March 2019, Grand Valley State University withdrew from the annual Battle of the Valleys (BOV) competition.
SVSU continued to raise money for charities, regardless of not having a competitor.
On Dec. 3, GVSU’s Student Senate voted to reinstate the competitive element between the two universities.
“Last spring, myself (philanthropy chair at the time) and Hunter (Koch) started talking with people from Grand Valley (GV) about potentially getting back together,” said Madeline Lowry, a junior exercise science major and current Student Association (SA) Representative. “Battle of the Valleys in its roots is a battle between Saginaw Valley and Grand Valley, and that’s something we wanted to keep within it. So, when they seemed open to the idea of doing battle again, we took advantage of the opportunity.”
Back in March 2020, a meeting took place right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. GV’s student government shut down almost entirely once the pandemic stuck, and efforts to reinstate BOV were put on hold.
“People seem to be split from my understanding over there at GV; some of the members in their student government were opposed to it,” Lowry said. “But when they came back in with their new student government this year, there were only a few people remaining who had been through a true battle, which is true here as well. There was a whole new wave of people in this student government who were open to it, so it didn’t take a ton of convincing.”
Last spring, the rules were recreated to address issues both universities had. In the past, GVSU wanted to sell their merchandise in their bookstore, but the new rules clarify that the student governments must sell it themselves.
“The rules are more detailed for less confusion and so there can’t be accusations of cheating,” Lowry said. “The goal was to make things crystal clear and remove the gray areas because there was a lot of gray areas in the rules.”
Olivia Nelson, a junior psychology major and current Philanthropy Chair, expanded on what some of those rules are.
“The new agreement has a new procedure with which we calculate fundraising totals … there’s a mechanism to figure it out,” Nelson said. “If you fundraise this much total, how much is counted toward the competition? There’s now rules about start and end time and corporate sponsorships and very specific little details like that.”
On Dec. 3, the reinstatement of BOV was passed with a 33-1-1 vote. SVSU’s SA will have their vote on Monday, Dec. 7.
“I’m very thankful to have been part of the team to finally push this over the edge,” said Hunter Koch, a public administration Master’s student, former SA President and current Parliamentarian. “Ideally, we would have wanted this done last year, but it wasn’t meant to be because of COVID … we had a really good team with a good understanding of the topic.”
Nelson shared her excitement over the decision.
“I’m very excited for the prospect and what the future of Battle is going to look like,” she said. “I think this is going to really impact not only the SVSU and GVSU communities, but also the greater Saginaw and Grand Rapids communities as well. I would also like to extend my gratitude to GV for its cooperation with us throughout this process, and it was great to work with them as seamlessly as it has gone.”