Holding GVSU accountable in 2018
With the commencement of 2018, the Grand Valley State University community should take a step back and assess if it is moving forward in a way that is most beneficial to students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community. 2018 will also be a year to see how university administration will handle landmark national policy changes at the local level and fulfill old promises.
Now is the time to keep a watchful eye on how the university will follow through on its initial responses to announcements of (impending) national policy changes from the Trump administration. With the six-month closure deadline approaching for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—although whether or not the president will actually follow through with ending the program remains to be seen—how will the university act on its expressed support for DACA students? When push comes to shove, how will GVSU stand by and protect its own? We'll find out this year.
The GVSU community should also watch to see if university administration will change the standard of evidence it uses to investigate reported cases of sexual assault. Following national policy changes issued by the U.S. Department of Education for reporting and investigating sexual assaults on college campuses, GVSU made only a couple small revisions to its processes while leaving the door open for future revisions pending input from the GVSU community. This year, students, faculty and staff should contact the Title IX office at GVSU to share their opinion, and they should watch for any more changes in this area.
Moving beyond administration, this year, as always, Laker students need to be held accountable with regard to sexual assault and matters of integrity. Despite the university's numerous programs dedicated to promoting active bystander intervention, such as the bystander intervention training offered through the Gayle R. Davis Center for Women and Gender Equity, there are still reported incidents of assaults or attempted assaults that involve either multiple perpetrators or bystanders who don't intervene. As GVSU students, as Lakers, as humans, we can and should do better. With so many resources readily available to them, students need to take responsibility for their roles as active bystanders and educate themselves on how to stand up against sexual assault.
Students should also be asking themselves if they are representing GVSU positively in other ways. Certainly, there are some areas for improvement here. From this past August through December 2017, for example, the Laker Store experienced 21 cases of retail fraud, a distinct rise from the 10 cases the Grand Valley Lanthorn reported in November 2016. Is this really the image students should be painting of themselves as members of the GVSU community, as petty thieves?
These are all issues that GVSU community members should be keeping in mind. Now is a good time to assess how the university is being represented and to hold the institutions and individuals in authority accountable for making decisions that affect us all.