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Hey there Lewis!

Hey There Laker! finds problem with student participation


Imagine being the face of several posters plastered across campus, but still feeling lonely. Lewis
Stone knows the feeling.

“When you’re Hey There Laker! and everyone knows you, but you still feel lonely among 20,000
people,” Stone said. “That’s where I was at (my freshman year).”

As the host of Hey There Laker!, a bi-weekly show that focuses on making Grand Valley State
University students aware of entertainment-based events, Stone has gotten to know the
entertainment and recreational activities offered by GVSU. With the show in its second year, Stone
has encountered frustrations both with GVSU, itself, and the student body, motivating him to seek a
solution.

heytherelaker_rgb05
GVL / Robert Mathews Lewis Stone, star of the "Hey There Laker" video series, works with members from the Office of Student Life to film a segment for an upcoming video.

While GVSU seemingly offers a variety of recreational activities, the challenge is getting students to
participate.

“I think that students feel we’re really an anti-social campus compared to other schools like Ferris
(State University),” Stone said. “I thought I hated GVSU at the start of my freshman year because I
had a hard time getting involved in on-campus activities. But I’ve found that the flaws (that I’ve
seen) are just flaws that I can work on. I may not have stayed if it wasn’t for Hey There Laker!”

The show was originally slated to feature ten events weekly, but Stone found a lack of reportable
content to be a problem. He said that often times, organizations do not post their event on the
events calendar and even when they do, information is listed inaccurately.

“It was too much work to try to dig up all the stuff that wasn’t obvious,” Stone said. “The show went
from potentially 20 to five (events covered every two weeks).”

The show also struggles with garnering an audience, which is a major goal this year.

“We’re trying to get more viewership,” said LeaAnn Tibbe, the assistant director of the Student Life
Office. “It would be great to have students tuning in for a new episode. We’ll give it another year,
see what we have for viewership for next year.”

Stone finds the recreational activities offered by GVSU to be limiting.

“There are three main categories of what (GVSU) offers to students, according to (OrgSync),” Stone
said. “A third of the clubs are academic, which is good for people who want to do that. Then there
are sports, so the people who like sports are taken care of. The last third falls into groups of
friends. You can join, most are very accepting of you. But sometimes, you just won’t feel a part of
them.”

Student Life, however, maintains that the activities offered by GVSU cover a wide range of subjects.

“(Student Life) provides the infrastructure for students to produce their own fun and explore their
interests,” said Michelle Burke, the assistant director of Student Life. “All of these options can be
overwhelming for some students and discouraging if the first few activities they try don’t go as
expected. That’s just part of life and learning more about living on your own for the first time.”

Stone said he feels that an unwillingness to leave one’s comfort zone contributes to the lack of
student participation.

“Phones make it really hard for ads to get in people’s faces, especially at college,” Stone said. “They
have their blinders on.”

Stone is not the only one who has noticed this lack of student involvement.

“We host events multiple times a month, but the hardest part is getting people more aware of the
entertainment-focused events that are taking place on campus and getting people to go out and
attend them,” said Corey Orvis, the vice president of marketing at Spotlight Productions.

Stone said he does believe that there is a solution for the lack of student participation, such as placing ads in places that students will actually notice.

“There also needs to be a group specifically with the purpose of surveying what entertaining
activities students want to see on-campus,” he said. “That way, we are doing what students say that
they want.”

Orvis agreed that spreading awareness is a possible solution. “I don’t think the problem is that we
don’t have enough (events),” he said. “I think it’s the fact that it’s hard to get people aware of them
and get them to take a chance on the acts that do come to campus.”

Though coming up with content is difficult at times, Stone will not be throwing in the towel with
Hey There Laker! any time soon and will continue to promote campus events.

To catch episodes of the show, visit www.gvsu.edu/2020.

lakerlife@lanthorn.com



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