GV set to hold 8th annual teach-in event virtually

GVSUs 8th Annual Teach-In // Courtesy to GVSU

GVSU’s 8th Annual Teach-In // Courtesy to GVSU

Trevor Hubert, Staff Reporter

Grand Valley State University’s Student Senate and University Academic Senate (UAS) are gearing up to host one of the school’s largest educational events of the year. GVSU’s 8th annual Teach-In event is set to go live Wednesday, November 11, 2020, but preparation is already underway.

The focus of this year’s Teach-In is “Power, Privilege, and Difficult Dialogues,” which intends to educate participants on relevant social justice topics, such as civil rights, gender studies and how to build a better campus community. For the faculty putting on this event, it is much more than just an education forum, but a place where students can make their voices heard.

“The Teach-In plays a unique role in creating a public space where students take the lead,” said GVSU Psychology professor Josita Maouene, who has been one of the key organizers for the Teach-In. “Together with staff, professors or grad students, we voice our concerns, our multi-partiality, we interrupt the status quo, we educate and are educated, they act, they call for action and we respond. There is no other place like that on campus of that importance.”

Although going virtual has provided a new set of challenges for the Teach-In this year, students can still expect to participate in a variety of different formats. There will still be workshops, panels, Q&A sessions and exhibits that take place online.

In previous years, the Teach-In has drawn in over 1,600 students with over 60 unique sessions. Maouene believes that going virtual could provide an opportunity to grow the event even larger.

“We think that the online format will make attendance easier with the phone app we will be using, potentially reaching other GVSU campuses that we normally do (not),” Maouene said.

The event will go live on Whova, a virtual meeting app that is designed for large events like the Teach-In. The app will play a key part in the success of the Teach-In, as it comes complete with a full schedule of events, chat rooms, streamlined presentation and live polling. For those who can’t attend, all sessions will be recorded and available to watch for three months after the Teach-In.

Even with new technology and accessibility, the success of the Teach-In ultimately comes down to what the students take away from it. UAS has tapped into its Division of Inclusion and Equity to ensure engaging topics and ideas that students will take with them on the rest of their college journey and beyond.

“Using educational frameworks for opening dialogue on inequity, systems of oppression, social justice and liberation through workshops or other engaged pedagogies, sessions that are practical, participatory, and action-oriented; Education with an intersectional framework is important”, said Marlene Kowalski-Braun and Relando Thompkins-Jones in a joint statement. Both are leaders in the Inclusion and Equity office, and Kowalski-Braun helped organize the inaugural Teach-In in 2014. “At the core, the integration of faculty, staff, and students as co-creators are among crucial elements to ensuring the teach-in is successful”.

Despite the drastic changes that the event has already undergone this year, Maouene is still excited to be a part of her fourth Teach-In in a row.

“On a personal level, I am not the same person that I was before I started attending the Teach-In three years ago,” Maouene said. “It has been essential in my education about GVSU students, staff, and colleagues. It has impacted the work I do in my classes, how I live my life”.

For those interested in hosting a session at the 2020 GVSU Teach-In, registration is open until Oct. 2.