As the new Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Loren Rullman kicks off his first semester at Grand Valley State University. His first main focus is to bridge the gap between students and university members. In doing so, the Office of Student Affairs has introduced a Student Advisory Board that will be implemented this academic year.
“My goal is to hear directly from students. This is a chance to hear what’s on their minds or get advice that can be concerning to me,” Rullman said. “It’s to provide an additional way beyond the existing structures that we have at the university.”
The Student Advisory Board is a select group of students who represent the diversity among the university. From academic discipline to background and age, student diversification remains a vital part of Grand Valley’s criteria. This will become a platform for students to have their voice heard and share their experiences and concerns among all GVSU campuses.
The board will meet monthly throughout the year to discuss any topics facing the importance of students and the institution as a whole. In addition, the program will help Rullman see the perspectives of students and how the Division of Student Services can benefit each member of the university.
“We’d like to focus on other aspects aside from what organizations deal with,” Rullman said. “The Senior-Student Advisory Officer works on complex and challenging situations. It’s important to work together as a group: how do we address that as a group? Let’s figure that out together.”
The board’s overall intention is not to replace any department advisory boards or student organizations, but rather work with the new Dean of Students on issues that might not be involved in campus conversations.
“We have a great student senate, excellent Greek governing issues — they are dealing with things that are important, but there might be things that are broader in the nature of the institution,” Rullman said. “I just simply want to have a direct way to hear students, a way for them to voice their opinion in ways they might not have otherwise.”
While this program is common among several universities, Grand Valley is taking a first-step towards establishing an open communication in the public university setting.
“Every university is different. This is Grand Valley, so what we need to talk about are the distinct things pertaining to Grand Valley that we want to address together,” Rullman said. “One of the things on my mind is campus safety. We might talk as a board: what are the safety issues? Are there things we can do, things we can initiate? You will see this issue at any other university; however, this has been on people’s minds, so I feel campus safety is unique to Grand Valley when we look at it.”
Elizabeth Chase, special projects coordinator for the Dean of Students Office, notes that any GVSU student can apply for membership on the Student Advisory Board as long as they maintain a GPA of 2.5 or higher. The board is also focusing its search on students that do not already maintain a leadership role within a campus organization.
“We might have students in a leadership role, but generally speaking, students that are already in this position have access to administrators—they already have voice (and) staff support,” Rullman said. “One of the things that happens in any organization is there are people in cities or companies that are not in leadership roles that have something to say. Unless you ask, they don’t get heard as often, so I’m trying to create that access.”
For students interested, applications are available starting Sept. 24 and will remain open until Oct. 22. Applications can be found on the Dean of Students website and interviews will be conducted starting in November.