GV athletics hosts SEA of Change event to help promote focus on social issues


Courtesy / GVSU Lakers

Shawn Robinson, Staff Writer

The Grand Valley State University athletic department hosted a SEA of Change event for social justice Sunday, Aug. 29, for incoming freshman and transfer student-athletes. SEA: Supporting, Elevating and Activating, was put together after several meetings and talks among several GVSU coaches, athletic administration members, athletes, and other outside groups.

“The purpose of this program was to give our incoming student-athletes the opportunity to see what Grand Valley is all about,” said committee member Walter Moore.

Moore, the Associate Director of Athletics for Student-Athlete Welfare and Development, has worked at GVSU for more than 20 years and said it’s great to see action being taken on campus.

“It gave them an idea of what the expectations are, what we would like to see all of our students, especially our student-athletes, embrace diversion, equity, and inclusion,” Moore said. “We know people are coming from all different backgrounds, but we want to set the expectation when students come to Grand Valley State University that everyone is going to be well, everyone is going to have a voice, everyone will embrace, respect and get to know other people.”

The event was a three-hour session that featured keynote speakers, Olympian Gwen Berry, former student-athlete SIU-Carbondale’s Kenton Mack, and President of Athletes Igniting Action. In addition to the keynote speakers, there were two one-hour breakout sessions where students chose from five different areas based on diversity, inclusion, and equity. Athletes then filled out a survey based on what they learned and took from the event and that information will be used to help layout future events and programs.

“What we plan to do the rest of the semester is create three, one-hour virtual sessions in October, November, and December where all of our student-athletes will have the opportunity to partake and hopefully learn something,” Moore said.

Earlier this year, Grand Valley was one of 41 Division II schools that were selected to participate in the NCAA Inclusion Forum, “A Vision of Change: Empowering Voices and Rising to Action.” GVSU was already prepared and ahead of the game with creating and sending out surveys based on information on what the campus can do to make sure GVSU is an ‘accepting and informed’ campus.

The SEA of Change committee is looking to make this an inaugural event to help educate and inform GVSU student-athletes on how they would like its student-athletes to practice and embrace the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“Part of my job is to send out notices and information about the different workshops and events that happen around our campus,” Moore said. “I send it out via Blackboard and inform the coaches and by exposing them in the beginning when they first arrive on campus, we hopefully ignite some passion and some fire or just a general curiosity and interest that they can then take time out and explore the program.”

The GVSU athletic department hopes to continue this program in the future, with some big plans coming up.

“I’m looking forward to the future and seeing what we do here and how it will impact the campus,” Moore said. “We’re looking to build the next few years. We’ll follow freshman to sophomores and create an educational program that will build on what we established this year, and the incoming freshman will either get something similar to educate our student-athletes.”