GV works to create inclusive campus, community


Amy McNeel, Associate Editor

Inclusiveness is one of Grand Valley State University’s core values. As a university focused on creating an inclusive and equitable environment, it aims to be a national model in higher education. To create this inclusive community, GVSU works to actively respect the identities and beliefs of all students, faculty and staff.

On July 18, GVSU’s Vice President for Inclusion and Equity Jesse Bernal sent an email to the Laker community about religious inclusion. In this email, Bernal shared GVSU’s Religious Inclusion Policy, statistics from the myGVSU 2015 Climate Survey and a list of religious observances.

“At GVSU, we seek to support and celebrate the religious, secular and spiritual diversity of our campus,” Bernal said. “This is part of our broader commitment to inclusion and equity which moves us to creating a space where all members of our community can be their full, authentic selves. Reminding our community of the diversity of traditions our students, staff and faculty may observe is just one effort we take to ensure our thoughtfulness in planning and scheduling activities and events.”

With a total of 11,925 participants, the 2015 myGVSU Climate Survey shows that the GVSU community holds a wide range of beliefs.

“The majority of faculty, staff and students identify as Christian,” according to the survey. “Followed by Agnostic or Atheist and Spiritual or No Affiliation. The most prevalent minority religions on campus, represented fairly equally in the sample, are Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu.”

The survey, along with Bernal’s email, reminds the GVSU community of the religious diversity on campus. In turn, it encourages faculty members to refrain from assigning work or scheduling exams on religious holidays. The myGVSU 2019 Climate Survey is coming Nov. 14-24.

The Division of Inclusion and Equity also provides a religious accommodation request form, which can be filled out within the first two weeks of each semester.

While GVSU works hard to maintain an inclusive campus environment, it also makes efforts in the larger community. On July 26, the second annual Inclusive Recruitment and Retention Conference was held at the Kirkhof Center. The conference was sponsored by the Career Center and the Division of Inclusion and Equity. This year, it brought in around 200 area employers, including representatives from the John Ball Zoo and The Rapid.

“GVSU’s students work and intern in many corporate and non-profit settings across west Michigan and the state,” Bernal said. “We hope all placements are healthy ones that allow our students from all backgrounds to gain invaluable career experience. As such, the university provides educational and training opportunities to our business and non-profit partners to ensure our commitment to inclusion and equity is extended to all student experiences.”

During the conference, attendees explored areas including mental health, religion, disabilities and sexuality. In providing these sessions, the conference aimed to foster an inclusive and equitable work environment.

Through these efforts, GVSU actively works to be respectful of each Laker’s identity. More information about the Division of Inclusion and Equity and its resources can be found at www.gvsu.edu/inclusion.