New Gender Justice House to focus on equality

GVL / Kasey Garvelink - Aaron Lozon studies in Vansteeland’s sitting room on Feb. 19, 2016 in Allendale.

Kasey Garvelink

GVL / Kasey Garvelink – Aaron Lozon studies in Vansteeland’s sitting room on Feb. 19, 2016 in Allendale.

Sanda Vazgec

Grand Valley State University is continually exploring new ideas on how to better serve its students, whether that’s through programming, departmental changes or other avenues. Now, new types of housing will be implemented with the same goal in mind.

GVSU’s housing department, the Women’s Center and the women, gender and sexuality department have teamed up to introduce a new living-learning community on campus called the Gender Justice House.

Taking place of the current Women’s Leadership House, the Gender Justice House will be located on the first floor of the VanSteeland living center. The GJH aims to provide an opportunity for students to continue their learning beyond the classroom.

Allison Montaie, director of the GJH, said the community is open to all students interested in social justice, gender and sexuality, LGBTQ studies, service learning and campus leadership.

Montaie said the community is expanding to include all aspects of justice when it comes to gender and equality. The house will focus on not only women’s roles in society, but open up conversation about men and masculinity, the transgender community and those who identify as gender-nonconforming.

Residents will also be able to learn about their privilege and personal identity and how it connects with the world around them.

The community will collaborate with professors from the women, gender and sexuality department to develop workshops and programs to educate students and challenge them to think further.

“We want to provide mentorship for our students,” Montaie said. “Connecting them with the resources they need to further their learning and experiences.”

Montaie said the community hopes to develop a one-credit class focusing on big issues in today’s society through a social justice perspective.

“We want to be able to approach things from an intersectional lens,” Montaie said. “Really addressing all forms of oppression as it relates to gender justice is something we aim to do.”

Jasmine Padin, living center director of Murray, VanSteeland and Grand Valley Apartments, said the community is a great way to build connections and network.

“This is a great opportunity to interact on a personal level with faculty and staff,” Padin said. “It provides a sense of authenticity.”

Engaging in service learning is another goal the GJH will strive for, aspiring to provide students with leadership opportunities by going on service trips, expanding the community and encouraging student programing.

Peer mentors will be available within the house to provide guidance and support. These students have lived in the Women’s Leadership House and are familiar with how living-learning communities function.

The community will also be gender-inclusive, meaning students may live with whomever they choose in the apartment-style housing regardless of their gender identity.

The GJH will be an available housing option starting in the fall 2016 semester. Students interested in living in the community may apply online using the MyHousing portal through MyBanner. Once the application and deposit are submitted, students can select the “academic communities” option and choose “Gender Justice House” as their first choice.

There are still spots available in the house, but students are encouraged to act quickly as housing options fill up quickly.

For more information on the GJH, students may contact the Office of Housing and Residence Life or the Women’s Center.