GVSU Women’s Commission hosts annual Fall Welcome

Courtesy / womens comission website

Courtesy / womens comission website

Alexandra Loyd

Grand Valley’s Women’s Commission hosted their annual kick-off event on Wednesday, Sept. 26—the Fall Welcome. The event was hosted in Grand Rapids for the first time ever in hopes of attracting more guests than usual. Each year, the Fall Welcome event is an opportunity to welcome the Laker community back to campus and see all the new faces at the beginning of the semester.

“Fall Welcome is a chance to meet other people on campus interested in supporting the women on campus and the initiatives of the Women’s Commission,” said Jennifer Palm, co-chair of the Women’s Commission. 

This year’s keynote speaker for the event was Takeelia Garrett, the Women Commission’s Student Ombuds who strives to promote fairness and foster a positive campus environment by assisting students with conflict resolution and problem-solving related to their university working, learning, or living experiences. Garrett, who held the co-chair position from 2009 to 2011, delivered a speech consisting of topics surrounding inclusion, equity, retention and belonging.

“The benefits from my discussion will hopefully help open others’ eyes to other issues of retention and help them understand that students also want to belong; maybe a better understanding of what it looks like to belong and not just be here,” Garrett said. 

The Women’s Commission is the longest established faculty/staff affinity group at GVSU having been established in 1996.

“The Grand Valley State University Women’s Commission advocates for all woman identifying people on campus by acting on their issues and by promoting equity and social justice, ever conscious of the intersection of race, class, gender and orientation,” Garrett said. “The Women’s Commission was involved in the initiative to create a Women’s Center on campus, now known as the Gayle R. Davis Center for Women and Gender Equity. The center opened in 2001.”

As they enter their 22nd year, the Women’s Commission is fully committed to their legacy of creating dialogue, celebrating women’s leadership and exploring issues of advocacy. It is open to any employee of GVSU to join. 

“In 2005 the Women’s Commission worked with Human Resources and the AP Development Committee to open the Excellence Series to all employee groups on campus, providing additional professional development opportunities to staff across our campus,” Garrett said. “During that same year, we partnered with Positive Black Women and the Women’s Center to further campus climate change [knowledge] through conversations among a diverse group of women and men.”

The Women’s Commission continues to see successes from their work, such as the Flexible Scheduling Initiative, the Career Coaching Program and the Early Care and Education Initiative. 

“We are also in the beginning stages of creating a mentoring program for women on campus, connecting them to other women in leadership positions,” Palm said.

The GVSU Women’s Commission’s next event is part of their HerStory series where women on campus speak about their personal and professional journeys in higher education and at GVSU. Professor Heather Tafel will present HerStory on Wednesday, Oct. 3 at noon in Kirkhof Center room 2270.