Ready for action

GVL/Archive - Vice President for Inclusion and Equity Jesse Bernal reviews the results of the Campus Climate Survey Tuesday, March 22, 2016 inside of Grand Valleys Kirkhof Center.


GVL/Archive – Vice President for Inclusion and Equity Jesse Bernal reviews the results of the Campus Climate Survey Tuesday, March 22, 2016 inside of Grand Valley’s Kirkhof Center.

Meghan McBrady

Recommendations for improving the campus climate were discussed in an open forum in the Kirkhof Center Thursday, March 30, in response to the expanded findings of Grand Valley State University’s 2015 Campus Climate Survey.

The recommendations were provided by faculty, staff and student action teams who reviewed the survey results and suggested ways in which the campus climate could be made more comfortable for GVSU community members.

Despite 87 percent of the total survey respondents saying they felt “comfortable” or “very comfortable” at GVSU, that number was lower for certain individual groups, including people of color, people with disabilities and the transgender population, among others.

During his PowerPoint presentation, Jesse Bernal, the vice president for inclusion and equity, discussed the recommendations of the three action teams to clarify and summarize the data and changes needing to be made.

Some of the faculty recommendations included expanding and standardizing family leave policies for full-time faculty and restoring parking near buildings for persons with disabilities.

Staff recommendations included conducting mandatory supervisor diversity training, creating an employee ombudsman position and creating strategic plans for each department to address the campus climate.

Student recommendations included upgrading Banner to let GVSU students, faculty and staff control what name is displayed in interfaces across campus. Other recommendations included ensuring that syllabi reflect GVSU’s policy on diversity and inclusion and creating opportunities for qualitative feedback from students.

Members of the action teams expressed gratitude for their roles and the hard work of those who participated in the evaluation and writing processes.

Kathleen VanderVeen, the director of Disability and Support Resources and a member of the staff action team, said she appreciated the hard work of everyone involved in writing the recommendations and the report and analyzing the data.

During the Q&A portion of the event, Brandon Fitzgerald, a GVSU nursing student and co-chair of the student action team, said he was grateful for being pushed into his role and that he was happy he could do something for the whole community.

“There was a lot (of) information that I expected that did actually come out in the full results,” he said. “Just moving forward with the group, I know that it was a learning experience for myself to work with such a large group of people and to try to get people to sustain their work and keep going till the end.”

Bernal said the feedback from the 2015 survey and future surveys would ultimately allow the university to create a safe and positive living and learning environment.

“We are going to continue to conduct special analysis reports at the request of individuals,” he said. “This will be on identity, specific groups. For example, we have a disability taskforce who will have more information on just the disability community.

“We are going to continue to promise to update the campuses, as annoying as that might be, on the progress of the action teams, the recommendations, as well as how we continue to use the data. That will be done through our website.”

Further data about the campus climate, hiring and promotion practices, and institutional actions can be found in the PowerPoint presentation.

To download the expanded findings report or view the action team recommendations, visit