Division News & Statements

Update on Racial Equity Commitment

September 23, 2020

Dear Grand Valley Community,

I want to update you on our action plan and progress toward racial equity. You will recall that in June I announced a framework for action and a Network of Advisors to guide our commitment to racial equity and social justice, following the killing of George Floyd. I make this update today, acknowledging the weight that so many of us carry, in particular our Black students, faculty and staff as the decisions are released by a Kentucky grand jury on charges for the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.

I am grateful to and excited by the progress of the Network of 36 faculty, staff, students, and alumni which has been building our 15-point plan for racial equity. They have been working continuously since June having defined five strategic pillars that serve as waypoints guiding us on efforts:

  • We must elevate the voices and experiences of our Black faculty, staff, and students.

  • We must listen carefully, valuing each member of our community.

  • We must fulfill our goals for inclusion and equity.

  • We must all deepen our understanding and knowledge through education. 

  • We must then use this knowledge as the basis for understanding and addressing institutional and systemic racism and oppression to make meaningful change.

A list of network members, our 15-point plan, and updates on each of the charges are posted at www.gvsu.edu/inclusion/action. It’s important to also emphasize that this work joins the long history of efforts at Grand Valley to create an environment where barriers are eliminated, all members of our community can be their full authentic selves, and everyone is provided the support and care needed to thrive. Come back often to the website for regular updates as progress continues and as new efforts emerge that advance equity and inclusion for all members of our community.

Caring for our community is especially important during this time. I ask each of you to consider how to peacefully add your voice to the call for social justice and to model the care we seek for all. I ask each of you to look for opportunities to empower our plan of action and engage with our Network colleagues to fuel and enrich the plan. I ask each of you to care for yourselves. The  University Counseling Center offers students support virtually or face to face. The Encompass Employee Assistance Program provides a number of resources for employees. Any member of the Grand Valley family who needs support or information on resources can also contact the Division of Inclusion and Equity at inclusion@gvsu.edu.

We will continue to learn, lead, and, most importantly, act, as we know more than words are expected of us.

With gratitude and hope,

Philomena V. Mantella

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Page last modified September 23, 2020