We are family

We are family

For the past three weeks, we have been surrounded by old friends, family members and familiar places. From Christmas dinner to New Year’s Eve celebrations, odds are topics of conversation regarding politics and personal opinions were avoided and replaced with lighter topics that were rated “safe” in the hopes to avoid confrontation. 

Recently, Grand Valley State University released the extended Campus Climate Survey results from 2015 that gauged the Laker community’s perceptions of the campus environment in order to find places to focus on or improve upon. Though 87 percent of respondents said that they were comfortable or very comfortable at GVSU, that still leaves 13 percent of campus respondents feeling less than comfortable on our campus.

If we’ve learned anything after being at home for the holiday season, it’s that we have to respect our family for who they are and work to make sure that we are creating an inclusive and constructive environment. This same idea should be applied to the GVSU campus community. If anyone is feeling uncomfortable at GVSU, it is our shared responsibility to ensure that we are woking toward a more inclusive environment. This is not a responsibility that should be put solely on the administration. We understand that GVSU is not perfect, but it is also important to remember that we have a chance to improve every day. 

After 2016 was deemed the worst year by most people on the internet, 2017 doesn’t have much to live up to. People are hoping this year will be better than the last and are making resolutions to eat healthier, exercise more, avoid procrastination on homework and more. Being inclusive and accepting diversity at GVSU should be a resolution that everyone–faculty, staff and students at GVSU–makes. 

Being diverse and creating an atmosphere where every Laker feels comfortable isn’t one person’s job. President Thomas Haas can’t change GVSU’s campus climate by himself, and neither can one department or one organization. It takes everyone involved in the GVSU community coming together and working with one another to make sure no one feels as though GVSU isn’t a place where they can be themselves. 

Remember that we are all lucky to be at a university that brings together over 25,000 students from different parts of the state, nation and world. Part of the responsibility of being a member of a diverse community is ensuring that we are taking advantage of the opportunities surrounding us. Whether this means taking a second to listen to the opinions of someone in your class or reaching out to a fellow Laker who may come from a different background, there are a multitude of ways that we can promote diversity and understanding in our community.