Power, Privilege, and Difficult Dialogues


As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail in 1963, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere... whatever affects one of us directly affects all of us indirectly.”

We need to stand united to combat injustice for the sake of our entire community.

This is the third  annual Teach-in, entitled Power, Privilege and Difficult Dialogues. The idea of holding a Teach-in in 2014  was motivated by a number of campus indicators about improving equity and inclusion on our campus, including the 2011 Campus Climate Study and ongoing reports of bias incidents on campus. These incidents included hostile acts based on race, ethnicity, gender expression, sexual orientation, ability, and class.  Students reported that such incidents also occur in the classroom, and they have emphasized the importance of faculty response to intentional or unintentional bias comments and actions. These reports underscore the urgent need for the faculty to take a strong stand to oppose discrimination, intimidation, and oppression in all its forms. Previous Teach-ins were so well-received that the University Academic Senate and Student Senate voted unanimously to sponsor another one this year, with the intention of making this a yearly event.

The Teach-in is intended for the purpose of mutual education among students, faculty and staff of the GVSU community and intended to address topics related to inequality and systems of oppression, as well as social justice and liberation.  Recognizing the multi-faceted dimensions of these topics, this Teach-in will be a daylong event. The learning objectives of Power, Privilege, and Difficult Dialogues are to raise awareness, inform, create dialogue, and document suggestions for action.  

In an effort to involve as many students, faculty and staff as possible, we will be hosting concurrent 75-minute sessions that align with the Thursday class schedule.  Please keep in mind that a teach-in is practical, participatory and action oriented. We especially encourage contributions with an intersectional framework (race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, ability). Sessions should include student leaders as co-presenters or panelists. We welcome collaborative faculty/student/staff/community sessions that involve educational frameworks for opening dialogues, workshops, and engaged pedagogies.

On behalf of UAS  (University Academic Senate) and the Student Senate,
Karen Gipson (PHY), Chair of University Academic Senate 
Maddie Cleghorn, Student Senate President