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GVSU hosting events to support, educate community in light of Patrick Lyoya shooting

The video of the deadly shooting is expected to be released this week. The GVSU president says this issue effects all, but especially the Black community.

ALLENDALE, Mich. — Grand Valley State University is hosting multiple events to support the community in light of the shooting of 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya by a Grand Rapids Police officer, president Philomena Mantella wrote in statement Tuesday. 

The video of the deadly shooting is expected to be released this week. Mantella writes this issue effects all, but especially the Black community.

"Law enforcement will release the video, and it likely will be difficult to watch. It may prompt a range of emotions - anger, sadness, trauma, shock, fear, sadness, grief, helplessness, distrust, guilt - all of which require us to come together as a community to support each other, while elevating the voices and experiences of our Black students, faculty and staff," said Mantella. "This is especially important given the proximity of this incident to our campuses."

"Once people see it, that's going to be really, really tough," Vice President of Student Affairs Jenny Hall-Jones told 13 ON YOUR SIDE. "And we just wanted to acknowledge how hard this is going to be on our community and provide as much support and community around this as possible."

The following events are scheduled to take place:

  • Support and Dialogue: On Wednesdays, April 13, 20, and 27, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., in 1240 Kirkhof Center, the Office of Multicultural Affairs staff will create an opportunity for the community to gather for support and dialogue to better understand the impact of incidents like these on the Black community. OMA is also hosting a “Conversations of Color” program on Wednesday, April 20, from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. in 2266 Kirkhof Center to provide an educational space for this unfolding situation.
  • Black students, faculty and staff sharing space with administrators: We have committed to providing opportunities for conversation, connection and support for our Black students. We will again offer this space, while also welcoming Black faculty and staff who would like to join university administrators, virtually. Zoom information will be shared soon.
  • Counseling Center & CARE: For personal support, we encourage students to utilize the GVSU Counseling Center. In the aftermath of experiencing or witnessing racial injustice and violence, one can experience a range of feelings and emotions. The counseling center also recognizes the racial trauma that specifically can occur and has created dedicated resources to support our Black students. The CARE Team consists of staff who support students through challenges they may experience. Referrals may be made online at www.gvsu.edu/care.
  • Support for employees: The Employee Assistance Program, Encompass, is available to help with confidential and professional mental health resources for employees and family members. Reach out for personalized support at (800) 788-8630, or schedule a meeting with Gary Atkins, GVSU’s work life consultant and a clinician at Encompass.
  • Network of Advisors for Racial Justice: Commitments and recommendations from the Network have been and continue to be acted on by the administration. Implementation teams are being activated through the summer to continue the important work to make our university a more inclusive and equitable community. We will continue to provide updates at www.gvsu.edu/inclusion/action.

"We're all going to experience probably some trauma," Hall-Jones says. "Our Black faculty and staff especially, our students especially, are going to feel some racialized trauma around this, no matter what that video shows."

Mantella also writes that the Grand Valley Police Department and academic leaders in criminal justice are committed to combating systemic racism through anti-bias training and community-based practices.

"The lives of Black students, faculty and staff matter to Grand Valley State University, and I remain hopeful that we can address structural inequity on our campus, in our communities, and across our country and world," she said. 

Hall-Jones says freedom of expression is always encouraged on campus, too.

"I think any college campus is going to be expecting protests, rallies, demonstrations, because we expect our students to use their voices," she says. "And no matter what happens tomorrow, with the releasing of the video, I think this is going to affect our community for weeks, maybe months ahead."

Administrators are encouraging students and faculty members at their Grand Rapids campus to stay informed and alert to rallies and protests happening around their buildings downtown.  

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