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History of Change U

Going Beyond Identity Politics

In the second year of the LGBT Resource Center, we started to understand that our work needed to go beyond identity politics to include the many other social justice issues that impact our students. Our students were interested in working on a myriad of justice issues, and we wanted to help them see the connections. We also wanted to expand our analysis beyond individual acts of discrimination (racism, sexism, homophobia) to understanding the larger systems of oppression (white supremacy, patriarchy) that keep injustices in place -- regardless of individual behavior.

Our social justice training was created with the desire to equip participants with the knowledge of how oppression works, how justice issues intersect, and how change is created. The training is open to GVSU students, faculty, staff and community members in order to facilitate community coalition building and intergenerational learning.

Intersecting Systems of Oppression

Over the past few years of Change U, we have benefitted from the wisdom of many amazing trainers who have taught us about social justice through the lens of intersecting systems of oppression. A generous grant from the Arcus Foundation allowed us to make Change U free and open to the public. This provided our students with the opportunity to learn side-by-side with faculty, staff, and community members who have done social justice work and/or are directly impacted by injustice. Change U has quite often been transformational for participants. We have heard many statements like Why didnt I know this before?

Change U provides participants with a framework for viewing social justice issues and examines historically how change has come about through collective movements. Participants leave training with a shared understanding, a set of skills, and a new community!