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WRT Diversity Statement

Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Oppression
Department of Writing and Rhetoric
Oakland University
Approved: April 6, 2022

Oakland University as a public institution serves students with diverse experiences, cultures and backgrounds including, but not limited to differences in age, race, creed, familial status, color, sex, religion, national origin, citizenship, sexual orientation, political affiliation, disability, gender identity, gender expression and veteran status1. In addition, we recognize the responsibility that comes along with working on ancestral, traditional, and contemporary lands of the Anishinaabe, known as the Three Fires Confederacy, comprised of the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi nations. As indicated in the OU Land Acknowledgement Statement, we honor those Native American ancestors whose ways of knowing demonstrated reverence and respect for the land on which Oakland University now stands. The formal and public acknowledgement is an explicit gesture intended to cultivate a mutually beneficial dialogue, which is an essential feature in building an inclusive campus community.

The Department of Writing and Rhetoric is committed to creating learning and working environments that are welcoming, respectful and just for all students, faculty, staff and community members. To do this work productively and ethically, we must first recognize that systemic discrimination, and white supremacist ideology in particular, has negatively impacted faculty, staff, and students, particularly people of color and LGBTQ+ members of the community2. As such, we have a responsibility to challenge these systems, structures and policies of oppression and work toward effecting positive social change.

At the same time, we recognize the value of diversity as a learning experience for our students. The National Association of Colleges and Employers includes equity and inclusion as one of eight key competencies associated with career readiness that broadly prepare the college educated for success in the workplace and lifelong career management. In today’s workforce, our disciplinary commitment is to enable students to “equitably engage and include people from different local and global cultures” and to prepare students to address the evolving nature of language and digital communication in the 21st century.

Our department has an ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-oppression, as reflected in our action plan, which will be reassessed and recalibrated on an annual basis in response to local events and evolving language.

  • Climate 
    • Establish a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee as a standing committee of the department.
    • Invite guest speakers to share ideas related to diversity, equity and inclusion.
    • Administer student climate surveys to all majors and use the results to inform curricular development, hiring strategies and faculty development opportunities.
  • Curriculum
    • Revise our curriculum, including choice of texts, assignments, pedagogical practices and diversity-specific student learning outcomes. 
    • Support students in achieving the Diversity and Inclusion FLAG (Fundamental Learning, Achievements and Goals).
    • Create new courses for majors which address issues of diversity such as race, social justice, and professional writing, or disability rhetoric and professional writing.
    • Emphasize the artistic and scholarly work of people of color and other underrepresented minorities.
    • Establish a virtual space with anti-racism and anti-discrimination teaching resources. 
  • Faculty
    • Make an affirmative effort to recruit BIPOC and LGBTQ+ faculty and other underrepresented populations into tenure-track positions.
    • Make an affirmative effort to support and retain BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other underrepresented faculty in both tenure-track and non-tenure-track positions.
  • Outreach
    • Build relationships with local high schools to aid in the recruitment of local students, especially those from underrepresented populations. 
    • Make an affirmative effort to recruit, support and retain students of color and other underrepresented populations.
    • Encourage student participation in OU Writing and Rhetoric to help recognize the value of courses and extracurricular activities, especially those efforts that have a diversity and equity focus which will support students as they prepare resumes and cover letters for graduate school or future employment.
    • Offer panel presentations through venues such as Professional and Digital Writing @ Work (PDW@Work) for the OU community (including majors, minors, and other students) with panelists who reflect our commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Our statement on diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-oppression was informed and inspired by the following:

Links related to indigenous groups in Michigan:

Other perspectives considered:

Protected Groups

Department of Writing and Rhetoric

O'Dowd Hall, Room 378
586 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-2746
fax: (248) 370-2748