GV hosts 10th annual Teach-In


GVL / Meghan Tripp

Melia Williams, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University has taken the initiative to educate both students and faculty through the 10th annual Teach-In once more.

The theme this year was focusing on power, privilege and difficult dialogue. At a predominately white institution, it’s essential to create an environment where students of different backgrounds feel included and heard.

“A lot of students put initiative into speaking about topics that are linked to matters of diversity, inclusion, equity and to just create a debate space where people can be aware of other perspectives and discuss and come to healthy resolutions,” said Vice President of Diversity Affairs Larbi Al Moutaa. 

Al Moutaa highlighted the fact that the Teach-In is original to the university and that there are no other universities with such an event. With 35 total sessions between the Allendale and Grand Rapids campuses, there is hope that these sessions will raise awareness, inform and facilitate discussion in the community. 

The Teach-In kicked off early in the morning with an event titled “How White Feminism Harms Women of Color: An Allied and Intersectional Perspective,” presented by Rachel Dziabuda and Jenna Thornton who both work in the Center For Women and Gender Equity. 

The agenda for the event was to first discuss working definitions of what was going to be covered in the presentation followed by brief overviews of the history of feminism, the definition of white feminists and the definition of intersectional feminism. 

The Teach-In is a huge learning opportunity for students to understand their peers in a way that they never thought of before.

“It served me as an eye opener to the issues that other communities are facing, which actually inspired me to run for student senate,” Al Moutaa said. “We cannot solve an issue without knowing it exists.”

The event concluded with a session about white allyship and the ways in which lived experiences for people of color are often invalidated.

At points, there were multiple sessions that students could choose between, including “Being Latin at GVSU” and “Conscious Uncovering: Creating Braves Spaces with Spicy Awareness.”

Speakers Dr. Jay Knight and Matrina Poston explained conscious uncovering to audience members through a series of personal stories and experiences. 

“Many people ‘cover’ for various reasons such as avoidance, past trauma, othering and safety,” Poston said. 

Poston said she’s experienced many microaggressions throughout her life as a result of her being an African American woman. She used a video to better explain the concept to those in attendance, demonstrating how intersectionality plays a different and challenging role in everyone’s life.  

“I know a lot of people that actually go to the Teach-In, and this is how they actually decide to go join student organizations like Black Student Union or Latino Student Union,” Al Moutaa said. 

After 10 years, the 35 Teach-ins have provided opportunities for both students and faculty to grow as members of the GVSU community.

“I’ve personally seen plenty of students that shift their perspective in life, with an emphasis on social issues and that has made such a big impact in our communities,” Al Moutaa said.