Feature of a student senator: Mackenzie Butler

Student Senate

Hello, I’m Mackenzie Butler, and a sophomore on the Student Senate Diversity Affairs Committee. The Diversity Affairs Committee serves our student body by working on creating an inclusive and connected atmosphere on campus so everyone can feel welcome. There is a lot that Grand Valley is already doing right, but my committee believes that there is always room for improvement. As a result, we have been working hard to create the hashtag movement #myGVshouldbe to figure out what students think GVSU needs to do in order to be the most accepting place it can be. This hashtag started on Thursday, Nov. 6 at the Open Forum held by Student Senate in the multipurpose room of the library.

I am a white female who came to Grand Valley from a high school in the suburbs of Detroit. My high school had around 1,600 students from a wide variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and I was essentially part of a minority. My first few weeks at Grand Valley were a big transition, and I like to say I was “culture shocked” because I had become a part of the majority of students on campus which was something I was not used to. To me, the lack of diversity at Grand Valley means we as students are limited in our learning. If the majority of us are virtually the same, how can we grow and make improvements as a whole?

The answer is simple; we cannot. We live in a nation classified as a “melting pot.” A nation made up of people from all walks of life. A nation of opportunity and greatness. Yet, our university does not entirely reflect that.

Entering my sophomore year, I came back to GV ready to make a change. The week before school even began, I was already on campus meeting with people like Bobby Springer, the associate director of OMA; Dwight Hamilton, the associate vice president for Affirmative Action and many more faculty members to discuss important issues of diversity that students at Grand Valley face. These faculty and staff are highly passionate and dedicated to bettering this university and the lives of the students who attend, and I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to associate with them through my position on Student Senate.

At GVSU, it is evident that we do not deny gaps in equality or try to pretend they do not exist. Our university is highly dedicated to improving the inclusion and equity of all. Students on campus should strive to be equally as passionate about reinforcing our standards for acceptance. By tweeting your ideas using the hashtag #myGVshouldbe, it gives all students the opportunity to be a part of the solution to educate peers and construct a positive campus climate. We all have ideas on how our campus can be improved, and this hashtag campaign is the perfect chance to share personal thoughts and suggestions. After a week of letting the hashtag run, my committee and a few faculty members will be taking a look at all the tweets to find common themes and anything that seems to stand out. On Nov. 12, we held a Town Hall meeting to discuss the findings from our campaign. Students are now working to create an action plan to start fixing the problems highlighted in the #myGVshouldbe hashtag.

Grand Valley State University’s Student Senate works to ensure that the student’s voice is continually heard by the University. Please feel free to contact the Student Senate:

Office: 0040 Kirkhof Center

Telephone number: 616-331-2333

Email: [email protected]

Website: http://www.gvsu.edu/studentsenate/

Facebook: Grand Valley State University Student Senate

Twitter: @GVStudentSenate