As Grand Valley State University continues to expand, it also continues to evolve. As students at this university, we play a role in the direction the school will go. As discussed in the article “GV looks ahead to the future,” the strategic plan for 2016-2021 is now being finalized. This is an opportunity for the university to identity its strengths and weaknesses and discuss options for moving forward. We at the Lanthorn are excited for the new strategic plan, and we hope to see several changes as the university continues its trek into the next five years.

Diversity should be a top priority at GVSU. During the 2013-2014 school year, 91 percent of the student population was white, according to the office of Institutional Analysis. In order for students to get a comprehensive learning experience, they should have the opportunity to interact with people different from them and have unique experiences and viewpoints. This includes not only students, but also faculty. Professors greatly impact every student who takes a course with them, so having staff from different backgrounds is vital to opening students’ eyes to other perspectives.

Updated student teacher evaluations should also be high on the university’s to-do list. Last year, course evaluations were often a topic of discussion at the Executive Committee of Student Senate and University Academic Senate’s weekly meetings. Most students rush through evaluations, giving professors very little constructive criticism. If we expect our professors to improve, we as students need to do our part, which could be made easier by updated evaluations. While it’s important to have comparable evaluation forms across departments, it should also be a priority to ask specific questions regarding individual classes or areas of study.

The physical health of faculty, staff and students is also important. Unfortunately, the “Freshman 15” isn’t a myth or a joke. While nutritional information for campus dining venues is posted online, and this is much appreciated, there need to be more healthy options. The chicken and asparagus salad with honey mustard dressing, offered at Bleeker St. (located below Fresh0, has 30 grams of fat and 450 calories – and this isn’t the worst one on the list. The chicken, pear and walnut salad has 49 grams of fat and 740 calories. It’s important to give students the options to choose healthy meals, especially if they live in a dorm room with no kitchen.

The university has made huge strides in the last five years – one example being the new facilities available for students to use such as the Mary Idema Pew Library. But, there is still much more room for improvement and growth. The new strategic plan will be a big deciding factor in which direction the university will take these next five years – let’s hope they choose wisely.