Division of Inclusion and Equity hosts webinar for newly admitted students, families

Zoom meeting of 13 people
Staff members from the Division of Inclusion and Equity host a webinar for newly admitted students and their families June 4.
Image credit - Elizabeth Lienau

Admitted students and their families learned more about Grand Valley's culture and community during a webinar June 4 hosted by the Division of Inclusion and Equity.

Jesse Bernal, vice president for Inclusion and Equity and executive associate for presidential initiatives, and the division's leadership team provided an overview of resources and services to more than 150 webinar participants.

"Our team is here for you now, and our community needs your passion and your talents," Bernal said and added his own nephew will join other first-year students on campus in the fall.

Marlene Kowalski-Braun, associate vice president for Inclusion and Student Support, said faculty and staff will strive to make the university a home away from home for students, adding the social justice centers play an important role in helping students feel comfortable on campus.

"Our social justice centers are spaces for students to come together for a sense of belonging and to learn," she said.

Connie Dang, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and special assistant for inclusive community outreach, invited all participants to visit the office and learn more about OMA and its cultural celebrations, ambassador program and programming.

"As our society becomes more diverse, it is important for our students to learn to work with people from different cultures and learn to empathize with them," Dang said. "This cultural education will help prepare you for a global workforce."

OMA and the other social justice centers — Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center, Gayle R. Davis Center for Women and Gender Equity, Campus Interfaith Resources — will host virtual open houses throughout the summer for new students to learn more about their services. Check individual websites for details.

Jen Hsu-Bishop, director of the LGBT Resource Center, said while most of the center's programming will be offered virtually in the fall, it doesn't change the intent.

"Whether we meet in-person or online, our care and love for our LGBTQIA students and allies will not waiver," Hsu-Bishop said. "It's been our privilege to become chosen family for each other."

Shontaye Witcher, director of Disability Support Resources, discussed the Campus Links program for students who have autism spectrum disorders and said the office is also providing virtual consultations during the summer months.

Bernal said this year's high school seniors have chartered new territory and showed perseverance.

"We are proud of you and what you have done. You have thrived despite how much you have missed out on, and we are excited to walk this journey with you in the fall," he said.

The next town hall for admitted students and their families/supporters is June 16 at 5:30 p.m. Register online at gvsu.edu/president.


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