What is Intersectionality?

GVSU’s multifaceted and coordinated framework for equity and inclusion considers and affirms the role of multiple identities with relationship to various social contexts and interlocking systems of power, privilege, and oppression in shaping experiences of our community members. The University’s efforts broadly consider complex experiences and needs through multiple dimensions of identity, with particular centrality to marginalized identities.  While intentional focus on intersectionality is important, identity-specific efforts are necessary until full equality is realized. These efforts acknowledge important nuances within diverse communities and identities and allow for strategic attention that advances the work more broadly.

Their purpose is to look at our complex world through multiple dimensions including race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion/worldview and class status, among others. By examining our various identities, we come to a deeper understanding of how they differently situate people in the economic, political and social world. This analysis also provides opportunities for participants to consider how privilege advantages certain groups of people while disadvantaging others.

These efforts reflect the commitment of the Campus Interfaith Resources, Disability Support Resources, Gayle R. Davis Center for Women and Gender Equity, Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center, and Office of Multicultural Affairs to utilize a social justice and intersectional framework in our collective work.

  • Social Justice-Focused
  • Equity-Minded
  • Student Success-Centered
  • Collaborative
  • Community-Engaged
  • Strategic, Data-Driven and Action-Oriented


  • Students will have many places on campus where they feel whole and valued.
  • Students will practice and apply social justice principles on campus.
  • Students will graduate as leaders/global citizens with an analysis of social justice, a framework of cultural humility and a practice transformational leadership.
  • Our alumni will be intersectional advocates in the workplace.
  • Our white students, and those with other privileges, will understand inclusion and equity to be values of the institution and have relationships with diverse others.

Social Justice Center Staff and Spaces…

  • Our events, spaces and at our meetings feel “radically welcome."
  • Staff will have authentic relationships and support one another and practice “radical candor."
  • Staff will feel a sense of wholeness in how their values and work align and will see GVSU as a place that nurtures their talent and growth.
  • Staff will have a deeper understanding and knowledge of different forms of oppression and therefore be equipped with an enhanced skillset to work with students and impact systems.
  • Staff will articulate and demonstrate a commitment to social justice issues broadly.
  • Staff will produce innovate research together that leads the field of higher education and our respective fields.
  • Centers will plan and program together to bring national/world renowned speakers who further our intersectional knowledge and that of the campus community.
  • Centers will have grown in staff and budget to allow for traditional and community scholar appointments.

The Campus…

  • The campus will have a holistic lens through which programs and services for marginalized students can be developed and implemented.
  • The campus (students, faculty and staff) lead social change.
  • Underrepresented and/or marginalized students are successfully recruited, retained and highly satisfied with their experience on campus.
  • Our institution is noted for engaging in courageous leadership in justice orientated education.
  • Our campus leadership speaks the intersectional/social justice language and leads with this as part of their framework. 

Social Justice Center overview video

Page last modified December 4, 2019