March 09, 2012 | Myrna Anderson

Calvin College earned “Full Partner” status from Partners for a Racism-Free Community.

Calvin College was recently recognized with a level-one “Full Partner” designation from Partners for a Racism-Free Community, a group of individuals and organizations committed to making Grand Rapids racism-free. The “Full Partner” honorific is the culmination of a two-year credentialing process, and Calvin is one of only five organizations in the area that have achieved that status.

“What’s good about this is it’s somebody else’s standard,” said Michelle Loyd-Paige, Calvin’s dean for multicultural affairs. “When we use our own mirror to look at ourselves, we look so good, and we don’t see that it’s one of our carnival mirrors.”

To earn Full Partner, the college had to show proof of anti-racism efforts in six categories: Engagement of Leadership; Internal Practices and Policies; External Collaboration and relationships; Contractor, Vendor and Supplier Practices; Client, Congregation, Customer and Marketplace Practices and Measurements and Results.

Progress thus far

Loyd-Paige was able to document Calvin’s commitment to eliminating racism through speeches, policies, programming, practices, faculty and staff development and cooperation with other local anti-racism efforts. “It gave us a better view of all that we are doing,” she said. The credentialing process also showed the gaps in Calvin’s anti-racism efforts, Loyd-Paige added:

“We tend to think, ‘We’ve got FEN, so it’s good,” she said, referencing Calvin’s anti-racism document: From Every Nation or FEN, authored in 2004. The FEN document is Calvin’s strategic plan for becoming a more inclusive community. “Our FEN document puts us so far ahead of some of our peer institutions,” Loyd-Paige said. “We could stop there and pat ourselves on the back. But when we have an outside agency coming in and holding us to a different standard—that tells us a different story.”

Calvin’s next credential from Racism-Free Community won’t come so easy, she said: “Level one proves that this is your position. Level two proves that you’ve done it.” To achieve that designation, Calvin would have to demonstrate that it had an anti-racism policy in the place for each college division. Loyd-Paige is gratified at having achieved “Full Partner” status and eager to continue the credentialing process: “If there’s a standard out there to be racism-free, we should be able to reach that standard,” she said. 

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