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What Diversity Requires of Us

The College's culture reflects our broader national and international culture, marked by the division of people into dominant and subordinate groups. 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. We must find ways to overcome dominant-subordinate divisions in the service of greater inclusion, respect, and recognition throughout the institution. This involves, inevitably, changes in institutional policies and group practices, curricular innovation, a shift in campus climate, and changes in individual behavior. It also requires both str ong 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 it 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, ethnicitiy, 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."1 Members of college communities have what the report calls "alert antennas" for the differences between lip service and pervasive values.

1Daryl G. Smith et al., Diversity Works: The Emerging Picture of How Students Benefit. Washington D.C.: AAC&U, 1997, p. 39