GVSU students leading campaign to create healthy and safe campus culture

A photo of an empty classroom on GVSU's Allendale campus. Blue, circular floor stickers remind people to stay six feet apart and social distance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
An empty classroom on Grand Valley's Allendale Campus. Floor stickers near the desk chairs are meant to remind people to stay six feet apart in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Image Credit: Amanda Pitts
Anthony T. Williams Jr., director of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, wearing a face covering. Photo taken on GVSU's Pew Grand Rapids Campus
Anthony T. Williams Jr., director of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, is one of the staff members assisting the student group developing the campaign.
Image Credit: Valerie Wojciechowski

In an effort to set an example and protect their peers from being infected by COVID-19, a group of Grand Valley students is working to create a healthy and safe campus culture.

The Student Campus Culture work group has developed a peer-to-peer campaign to align with the university's Lakers Together messaging and promote proper and frequent PPE usage, social distancing and hand washing to protect the overall health of the campus community. The group includes undergraduate, graduate, international and non-traditional students.

Phillip Todd, a higher education graduate student, said it’s important for the campaign to be student-led because they bring their own perspectives to the table.

“We know faculty and staff have our best interest, but only current students will understand what they want and need,” Todd said.

The campaign is broken down by pre-arrival, move-in, early semester and the remainder of the semester. It includes modules for Transitions, video messages, social media content, email and letters to student organization presidents. There are hundreds of student organizations at Grand Valley, and Todd said they often move together as one. 

“Knowing how much my student organizations meant to me, we came together during times like this,” he said. “If you can get a couple people on board with wearing a mask, you can set an example and set the culture.”

Kelly Dowker, a social work junior, said developing the campaign with a diverse group has allowed for listening and taking everyone’s unique perspectives and identities into account.

“By working with other students, for the student body, I think this will be effective,” she said.

The working group is supported by staff members within the divisions of Student Affairs and Inclusion and Equity. Anthony T. Williams Jr., director of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, said staff members helped connect the studies with resources to be successful, but the campaign is meant to give students the opportunity to help set the expectations.

“I’m proud of these students and the work they’ve done so far," Williams said. “If we can reach a student from every corner of the university, they will reach their peer group.”

While the group developing the campaign has been a select number of students, Todd said the entire campus must come together, follow the guidelines and look out for each other.

“I hope we’re able to stay safe this year,” he said. “When students take precautions, that shows they’re caring for others and not just themselves.”