The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion specializes in promoting diversity, as well as the creation of an equitable and inclusive environment at Oakland University. They stand by the belief that learning and diversity at the university are closely linked, and therefore should be understood by everyone.
The Office’s director, Chad Martinez, yearns to help with the spreading and accepting of diversity across the campus. In both academic and non-academic units, he and his group provide a leadership to help promote, enhance, and improve the acceptance of different people.
Martinez holds diversity in a strong regard. He describes it as being difference in characteristics, race, gender, abilities, religions, and social economics.
“Basically, all of that makes somebody unique, [that] is kind of to me what diversity is,” he said.
Martinez has a similar view towards inclusion, stating how it’s about accepting people from different environments, and making sure that they feel welcome and appreciated for participating in the events occurring around them.
Martinez admitted that he himself had encountered a small amount of bias during his childhood. He had switched from a well-diversified school to one that held mostly white students.
“I can definitely recall several of the kids taking interest in me solely because of me being Mexican,” he stated. “They would just ask questions, but a lot of it was demeaning and so, eventually, I just told them to leave me alone because I didn’t want to associate with them.”
During his time as director, Martinez feels like he’s constantly learning and evolving as a person. He has interacted with a number of people he has worked with that have different ethnicities and beliefs.
“Whenever I get the chance to meet with people, I often ask, especially like faculty, what they study because I want to learn things,” said Martinez. “I’m constantly trying to learn. Part of it is just general curiosity, part of it is trying to connect with people that I don’t necessarily know, and part of it is to just be a person.”
Martinez stated that he is more than willing to help anyone who may step through his doors. Several people have come to him stating that they were unhappy with the environment that they were included in, and he tries to find a way to help these people.
“I met with someone a little while ago that kind of made me think about my energies that I give off, the unconscious biases that everyone has, and just making sure you’re aware about new areas of awareness,” he said.
Martinez finds great enjoyment of his work, and hopes for diversity and equity to continue to grow on Oakland University. He also hopes for people to eventually become more accepting of other ethnicities and equities.
“I think the main thing I would say is that I would want everybody… and there are many people that are pushing this, diversity includes me, it includes you, it includes others,” he said. “It’s speaking to everybody, and there’s an element of treating people with respect. Inclusion is a little more than that, but it starts with the respectfulness. Diversity speaks to everybody, and it includes everybody, and getting that would be the main thing I want people to understand.”