GV affirmative action program allows self-identification
In recent years, the concept of affirmative action at public institutions has been a source of legal controversy and communal discourse throughout the US. According to the Grand Valley State University website, the Michigan-based institution is “committed to equal opportunity, affirmative action and multiculturalism both in spirit and according to laws and regulations…” To understand GVSU’s policy means to define the phrase “affirmative action.”
To the school community, affirmative action means that a range of thoughtful perspectives is necessary for open inquiry, a liberal education and a healthy community, thus a diverse group of students, faculty and staff are welcomed at the university.
GVSU is also a federal contractor, which means that it has an affirmative action program for covered veterans, people with qualifying disabilities, women and minorities. In accordance with federal law, people with disabilities or covered veterans may fill out a voluntary self-identification form.
The university specifically encourages its veterans to self-identify to best accommodate them and to maintain an accurate count for government records, said Dwight Hamilton, the assistant vice president for Affirmative Action.
“Under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA), GVSU is required to report annually to the Secretary of Labor the number of employees in its workforce who are qualified covered veterans under that act,” Hamilton said. “We must also report the number of new hires during the reporting period who are qualified covered veterans.”
By filling out one of the voluntary self-identification forms, the Office of Affirmative Action in the Division of Inclusion and Equity can make their annual filings more accurate based on the numbers they receive. “It’s [also] important for veterans to self-identify, not just for our legal compliance obligations, but so that we can better track our progress in hiring, retaining, and promotion of veterans,” Hamilton said. “We certainly value their contributions both to our country and to GVSU.”
In order to file a self-identification form, people who qualify may go to gvsu.edu/selfID and complete it no later than Sept. 7. One may self-identify at any time during their employment at the university, and if one chooses to self-identify or remain unknown, adverse treatment will not be given to the individual either way. The completed self-identification forms are held in strict confidence and separate from one’s personal file.
The Office of Affirmative Action in the Division of Inclusion and Equity also deals with complaints of harassment at GVSU and has representatives available to talk to anyone with questions or concerns.