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 multiculturalaffairs@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.

More recently, 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. The Strategic Plan theme, Strengthen Diversity and Inclusion Efforts, provides a 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 is meant by it?

In 1999 the Christian Reformed Church in 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 Calvin College 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.

The From Every Nation document explains the college’s use of the term in this way, “‘Anti-racism’ at first may sound negative, but it 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: What does “diversity” mean at Calvin College?

Calvin College has adopted the term "diversity" to describe the kind of community we hope to build and maintain on our campus. The college is committed to welcoming community members from various races, ethnicities, cultures, genders and abilities. Promoting a diverse and inclusive environment is first and foremost a priority that is pursued at Calvin College as a grateful and faithful response to following the Scriptures and effectively preparing students to not just survive, but thrive and serve in today’s multicultural world. Diversity is not a problem to be solved. It’s an expression of God’s creative genius! However, the college does more than simply celebrate the “rich diversity of God's people”; the college works to create an institutional environment that links diversity and academic excellence by engaging diversity for the benefit of all within the Calvin community and where diversity is tied to Calvin’s reputation for excellence

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. 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. 

Q: Is Calvin’s focus on diversity and inclusion just about race?

No, Calvin’s diversity and inclusion efforts include race, but also address other topics. The college offers a variety of lectures, courses and professional development opportunities on topics related to a variety of diversity-related subjects, including: gender equity, social class, global concerns, world religions, differing abilities,  and sexual orientation

With regards to sexual orientation, Calvin College seeks to be a community where lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons are treated with respect, justice, grace and understanding in the Spirit of Christ. Our institutional approach is framed by the position of the Christian Reformed Church in regards to same-sex sexual behavior, and the college understands Christian marriage to be a covenant between a man and a woman. We recognize the complexity of current issues around homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and gender identity. The college desires to engage these conversations with courage, humility, prayerfulness, and convicted civility. Read more in the LGBT Students and Homosexuality FAQ

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 people from majority cultures, not just under-represented people, benefit from a diverse work setting, 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: 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.

As a college, we are committed to working to create opportunities for all who study and work here; to sustain a climate of civility and mutual respect; to promote the free and open exchange of ideas (even unpopular ones) in the context of an academic learning community; to make our governance structures and decision-making processes more inclusive; to seek justice and reconciliation according to the biblical vision of shalom; and to enhance the curriculum and educational programming—in alignment with our Reformed Christian mission—with respect to those differences that have occasioned the most significant injustices.

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

As a college, we take your feelings of harassment and discrimination very seriously. We believe that harassment or discrimination of any form are a violation of a person’s rights, dignity, and integrity. Such acts debase the integrity of the educational process and are contrary to the mission and values of Calvin College. In response to any reported misconduct, the college will take appropriate steps to eliminate the misconduct, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects. We will do our best to keep the reporting of your experiences confidential by only sharing with those who need to know to ensure your concerns are well addressed. You will be given options and resources to aid you in resolving the situation in accordance to the college’s Safer Spaces policy.

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 can be made with this reporting form, or to one of Calvin’s Safer Spaces Coordinators via Todd Hubers, Associate Vice President for Human Resources at thubers@calvin.edu.