“Displaced” is a word that comes to mind for many students entering the college atmosphere. Students often feel displaced, entering an unfamiliar environment where almost everyone is a stranger. For many marginalized groups, these feelings can be extreme. Being away from the support systems they grew up with can make it difficult to feel a sense of community. One person hoping to change this narrative is Oakland University’s Senior Vice President for Student Affairs & Chief Diversity Officer, Glenn McIntosh.
When discussing his leadership journey, Glenn explains, “Education was the only legitimate avenue to upward mobility. I thought the more that I could embrace the art of learning, the more I could change my condition, the condition of my family, and the condition of my community.” This led him to enroll at a university where he became involved in student leadership, which eventually sparked his passion for higher education and helping underrepresented students.
Glen is committed to creating an inclusive and equitable culture at Oakland University. When looking at diverse groups of students, he attempts to consider their experiences and perspectives and is always asking how developmental policies, procedures, and practices can be improved for students, staff, and faculty. He asserts, “Just because you have diversity doesn’t mean you have equity and inclusion. Now we need to dig deeper into the organization and figure out, are there any systemic institutional issues in our policies, procedures, and practices that really prevent us from being that inclusive community. As we discover those barriers, we start to tear them down and replace them with systems, processes, and practices that really afford the opportunity for us to be that community that we are aspiring to be.”
Glen is very proud of the initiatives Oakland University has in place for its marginalized groups. Such support services include the Center for Multicultural Initiatives, the Gender and Sexuality Center, Veterans Support Services, the Women’s Center, and more. He goes on to describe how each one acts as a support system for people belonging to these underrepresented groups. This leads to increased levels of engagement and success in higher education. We then discuss with Glen how his role has changed over the years and ask how he suggests we can create change in our own communities.
To hear more about Glen’s story, Oakland University’s DEI initiatives, and how to become a change agent in your community, check out the full episode by going to Spotify, Podbean, or Apple Podcast.
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