Teach-In to emphasize social justice

GVL/Kevin Sielaff
Kristen Childs

GVL/Kevin Sielaff Kristen Childs

Alex Sinn

Grand Valley State University is hosting its second annual Teach-In – an annual, daylong series of sessions covering a range of social justice issues – on April 2 on the Allendale and Grand Rapids campuses.

The event is titled “Power, Privilege and Difficult Dialogues,” and will seek to go beyond the previous year’s mission of improving equity and inclusion on the GVSU campus during the event.

The concurrent 75-minute sessions align with the Thursday class schedule, and teachers are encouraged to bring their classes to engage in these dialogues, which are related to liberal education.

“This is a good chance to put yourself in someone’s shoes, marginalized students of Grand Valley,” said Karen Gipson, chair of the Executive Committee of the University Academic Senate, which is co-sponsoring the event with the GVSU Student Senate.

Some session topics include bias incidents, Title IX gender discrimination, the Black Lives Matter campaign, Islamaphobia and a new discussion exploring interfaith initiatives.

“We’re very excited to have those new (sessions) this year,” Gipson said.

A growing interfaith community and a greater presence of Muslim students on campus have raised some of these new topics of discussion, Gipson said.

This year, an even greater emphasis has been placed on GVSU student and faculty involvement.

“It’s another chance to get people thinking about social justice issues on campus and have good conversations that hopefully come up with solutions,” Gipson said. “We’re very grateful for (student) insight.”

Last year, the Teach-In saw 1,800 participants, but this time around, the student planning should help bring more people to the table, Gipson said.

“We’ve taken more time to be more thoughtful how to put it together this year,” she said.

Student Senator Jewel Haji, who is on the Communications Committee for the Teach-In, said her goal is to get as many students involved in the event as possible.

“We are working hard to get the word out and use our resources to create a more inclusive campus community,” she said.

In the evening following the Teach-In sessions, philosopher, activist and author Cornel West will speak in Allendale about racial justice and democracy, as an unofficial conclusion to the event.

The Teach-In schedule was finalized this weekend and is now available at www.gvsu.edu/teach-in/.