There is so much to learn about Calvin College’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. Some of the more frequently asked questions are answered here. If you have more questions about Calvin’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, or if you have a suggestion to improve our diversity and inclusion efforts, please contact us at diversityandinclusion@calvin.edu.

Q: Are the college’s efforts to strengthen diversity and inclusion new?

No, the college has been intentionally addressing diversity and inclusion since 1985. However, in 2014, through the leadership of the president, provost and others on the college’s senior leadership team, the college has recommitted to strengthening its diversity and inclusion efforts. These efforts are articulated in the Strategic Plan: Calvin 2019 document. The Strategic Plan theme, Strengthen Diversity and Inclusion Efforts, provides tactical framework that the Calvin community can use to achieve the excellence derived from full engagement with diversity.

Q: Why does Calvin use the term anti-racism and what do you mean by it?

In 1999 the Christian Reformed Church of North America took steps to become identified as an “anti-racist” organization. The college, as well as churches within the denomination, was encouraged to incorporate an anti-racist lens into its work and policies. In 2004, the Board of Trustees approved of the From Every Nation document which has as three themes: Multicultural Citizenship, Anti-Racism and Accountability, and Reconciliation and Restoration. “Anti-racism,” while at first may sound negative, can be a useful and, indeed, a positive term.

It alerts us to the fact that progress toward the ultimate end—a genuinely multicultural Christian community—requires more than eloquent rhetoric and good intentions. It requires intentionally combating deeply ingrained impediments to interracial justice, reconciliation and partnership.

The use of anti-racist terminology is not a mere matter of putting on the rhetorical berets and bandoleers of political correctness. It arises out of a sober recognition of what Abraham Kuyper called the “antithesis”—the radical gap between the Kingdom of God and the powers of this world. (FEN, 23)

Anti-racism, simply defined, is the collective of beliefs, actions, movements and policies adopted or developed to oppose racism. Anti-racism tends to promote the view that racism is pernicious and socially pervasive, and changes in institutional and social life are required to eliminate it. In general, anti-racism is intended to promote an egalitarian society in which people do not face discrimination on the basis of their race.

Q: Where can I find or post information about diversity-related events and activities at Calvin?

The cultural events calendar is the best place to find information about diversity-related events at Calvin. (need help here with instructions on where to find calendar). However, not all events get added to the Cultural Events Calendar. Be sure to check the daily online information bulletin Calvin News or Calvin Student News for all Calvin activities. And, remember, most of Calvin’s diversity-related events are open to the public and unless otherwise specified, all are welcome to all advertised events.

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Q: I’m not a minority, so why should I be involved in diversity and inclusion efforts?

All members of the Calvin community are urged to engage in practices that will strengthen Calvin’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Research has shown that majority students, not just minority students, benefit from a diverse learning environment and a curriculum which is infused with diversity-related content. The college has made a commitment to be an institution that is academically and inclusively excellent. We will be successful in our efforts—and we must be successful—only if everyone in the Calvin community commits themselves to this effort. Each of us—in our work environments, in our public interactions and in our personal relationships—must aspire to the goals we have set for ourselves. Our integrity, as well as our success as an institution of higher education, demands nothing less. To read more on the benefits of diversity in higher education see Daryl G. Smith et al., Diversity Works: The Emerging Picture of How Students Benefit. Washington D.C.: AAC&U, 1997, p. 39

Q: What if I have experienced harassment or discrimination but don’t want anyone else to know what happened?

In most cases, your concerns will be kept confidential. Only those who need to know will be informed. You will be given options and resources to aid you in resolving the situation.

If, however, a crime has been committed or someone is at risk of harm, there is an obligation to report the incident to the appropriate authority in order to keep you and others in the Calvin community safe. In that event, the matter will be handled discretely and with your knowledge.

Reports of discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation should be reported to one of Calvin’s Safer Spaces Coordinators via Todd Hubers, Associate Vice President for Human Resources at thubers@calvin.edu.

Q: How will the college promote greater inclusion?

The college’s culture reflects our broader national and international cultures. The integration of multiple cultures, at times, is marked by the unintentional division of people into dominant and subordinate groups. As such, we must pay particular attention to the differences that have the most powerful adverse effects on people’s lives. Those differences manifest themselves in our daily interactions, as well as in our widespread institutional practices and policies and can make Calvin more challenging and difficult for some.

Not all differences lead to the subordination of people and cultures, but to the extent that they do, we must find ways to overcome dominant-subordinate divisions in the service of greater inclusion, respect and recognition throughout the institution. This inevitably involves changes in institutional policies and group practices, curricular innovation, a shift in campus climate and changes in individual behavior. It also requires both strong leadership and broadly shared responsibility in pursuing these diversity initiatives.

Therefore, at Calvin:
  • We recognize that we have a special responsibility to acknowledge and, where possible, prevent, individual and institutional manifestations of all forms of discrimination and exclusion, those that are subtle as well as those that are highly visible.
  • We take diversity and inclusion to be part of our educational mission to prepare students for well-informed and fair-minded citizenship, both in their home countries and in the global community. To that end, we seek to make the curriculum, educational programming and student body international in scope. The aim is not just to celebrate international differences, but also to present more accurate conceptions of foreign national cultures. We also seek to enhance the curriculum and educational programming with respect to those differences of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and class that have occasioned the most significant injustices.
  • We seek an enlarged capacity for empathy and mutual respect across social divisions, including race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, economic background, age, ability, sexual orientation and spiritual values. To this end, we will vigorously promote a climate of civility, mutual respect, tolerance and freedom from fear. We acknowledge a special responsibility for improving the climate for subordinate social groups. We all must deepen our appreciation of the complexities of identity and guard against prejudices that may be deep and subconscious.
  • We will not unfairly exclude, on the basis of certain differences, people who might learn, teach and work at Calvin; and we will work to end the under-representation among students, faculty and administrators at Calvin of groups that have historically been excluded from equal opportunities. We will endeavor to make our curricular, social life, study abroad, student services and residential life opportunities attractive to members of historically under-represented and under-served groups. And we will continue to seek and use financial aid resources to help ensure that economic class does not function as a barrier to educational opportunity.
  • We will continually work to ensure that historically marginalized U.S. social groups and foreign national cultural groups are understood and respected; this includes continuing to make available diversity-enhancing programs of study, off-campus opportunities and extracurricular programming. It also includes ensuring that members of those groups have the space, visibility and participation in institutional decisions that will sustain their full inclusion.
  • We will seek to create an organizational environment that is open and inclusive in its fundamental outlook and practices. While visible and representative diversity is crucial to the college, we know that the culture of the organization—its dominant values, assumptions, written and unwritten rules, decision-making processes, etc.—provides an equally important manifestation of diversity.
  • We will forge a strong institutional commitment to the value of diversity. As a recent American Association of Colleges and Universities report puts it: “This commitment must pervade the institution from senior administrators through faculty and staff: it must be both communicated and demonstrated to students. It cannot be solely the work of the student affairs staff, a small group of faculty, or those who are directly served by diversity programs.” Members of college communities have what the report calls “alert antennas” for the differences between lip service and pervasive values.