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GV Faculty Letter of Support Project for Ukrainian and Russian Community – Grand Valley Lanthorn

Recently, Grand Valley State University The Department of Integrative, Religious and Intercultural Studies (IRIS) has created a support letter which recognizes the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the community members affected by the events.

As a community of scholars, we hold ourselves accountable to certain ethical standards as faculty and staff,” said IRIS Affiliate Professor Dan Cope. “We expect our students to do the same, which is why we teach them important skills like ethical reasoning.”

Cope teaches Integrative Studies, an interdisciplinary program that prepares students entering a variety of fields to become ethical, engaged, and compassionate members of the community.

This program aims to provide capacity to people who want to reach out and help those in need, Cope said.

“There are many inside and outside our community who felt compelled to say ‘this is not fair’ when they witnessed the movement of the Russian military into Ukraine,” Cope said. “The Lakers do this individually and collectively by reaching out to our Ukrainian and Russian students, faculty and staff for support and resources.”

Although an educator, Cope believes that the value of basic human rights should not be differentiated when wearing the shoes of a scholar versus a civilian.

“As such, GVSU should be an example of the society we want to create and inhabit,” Cope said. “For this reason, I see no distinction between my behavior as an academic and my behavior as a citizen. If I fail to respect or see behavior that violates these ethical principles, I am disturbed, and I should be. We all should.

Cope believes the fight for these rights is more than a common occurrence whenever tragedy strikes, but rather a daily struggle to maintain respect.

“It’s not a commitment we can make when it suits us,” Cope said. “Instead, it’s a way of life we ​​should embrace as global citizens who see themselves as neighbors in a ‘world house’.”

Cope said it was the duty of the GVSU community to recognize this, based on its shared values ​​among students.

“Our institution is shaped by the shared values ​​of intellectual freedom and integrity, autonomy and collaboration precisely because we believe they are essential elements of a healthy community,” Cope said.

IRIS continues to create stimulating resources that promote inclusivity, an equitable community and more innovation through the Reach higher 2025 initiative.

Reach Higher envisions learning experiences to produce globally minded citizens through their professions and life aspirations.

“We hope people will continue to sign and share the letter because we know there is strength in numbers,” Cope said. “As stated in the letter, we are called to ‘think and act on a global basis’ in our new initiative Reach Higher.”

Cope said the letter recognizes the injustice in the struggle that Ukraine faces, as well as the bravery of the Ukrainian and Russian people.

“This letter recognizes Ukraine’s right to sovereignty,” Cope said. “It also recognizes the courage of ordinary citizens, journalists and activists, Russian and Ukrainian, who are working tirelessly and at great expense to bear witness to the injustice of the military invasion of Ukraine.”

Students, faculty, alumni and others can use the link above to sign the letter of support.

“This is an opportunity to implement our values ​​in a meaningful way and I’m proud to be part of a community that clearly cares about getting justice,” Cope said.