Perkins and Grassroots to pool efforts, form new learning community


From Calvin.Edu

Grassroots and Perkins both focus on racial justice and equity.

The John M. Perkins Leadership Fellowship and the Grassroots living-learning floor are partnering to form the Perkins-Grassroots Justice & Equity Learning Community, which will be fully operational by September 2022.

“I think it is a great opportunity for two groups that both fight and strive for social justice to finally come together. In ideas, in partnership and in community,” said Alia Shenk, a junior studying secondary education and a current member of the Perkins Fellows. 

The Perkins-Grassroots Justice & Equity Learning Community will be located on second van Reken, according to Residence Life Director Becki Simpson. 

The living-learning community will feature two resident assistants for the combined living learning community. “Adding some more staff and program support, and offering a more consistent array of social justice-focused experiences,” is a goal for the community, according to an email from Simpson sent to current Grassroots residents obtained by Chimes. The J.M. Perkins House will also be an available housing option for upperclass students and will be the location of a monthly movie and discussion event for members of the community. 

Simpson told Chimes that the merger was first proposed by Perkins Director Kieychia Likely. According to Calvin’s website, the merge acts as an opportunity for members to “think deeply as a community about issues of identity, diversity, inequality and justice” while also living “wholeheartedly in genuine community, where Christ’s love and compassion is shown toward one another in all aspects of life, whether in the classroom or in everyday living on the floor.” 

According to senior Joshua Smith, a religion student who is a member of the Perkins fellows and a resident on the Grassroots floor, both groups have had little to no momentum in terms of racial justice events and activities. Though he is optimistic about the merger, he is concerned that the new living learning community will fall victim to the organizations’ current inaction. “On paper this merger looks great but in reality when you have two things trying to bring about something but have no action it’s all null and void,” said Smith.

First-year students on the floor will take an IDIS 290 course with Likely in the fall. There are also plans for adding a recommended course for sophomores in the 2022-2023 school year. 

Apart from academic requirements, members will have several opportunities to get active and connected with one another and the community to focus on racial equality and social justice, with options including a partnership with the Center for Counseling and Wellness.

Applications for the new living-learning community are open to current students. Prospective students are encouraged to express their interest on their housing applications and complete supplemental questions.