How diverse is student employment?

Emily Morris, Staff Reporter

Some people are channeling their racial discomfort into avoidance, rather than channeling it into increased focus on inclusion across racial lines.     

According to a survey done by Glassdoor, 57 percent of American employees would prefer a greater amount of racial diversity in their workplace. That’s nearly 72 million people looking for a change. 

A SHRM survey found that 41 percent of managers claim to be “just too busy to integrate races in employment.”

Being “too busy” is considered an excuse appropriate to avoid an “unnecessary” or uncomfortable subject. America has a mix of cultures, especially within college settings, so any aversion to racial diversity will have trouble being brushed under a rug for too long.  

Gaby Saenz, a former student employee, initially commended Oakland’s orientation for “being socially aware of implementing what is appropriate regarding race.” However, Saenz also believes instigating conversations about race could add a greater level of understanding throughout the student employment system. 

In fact, she reported her reason for leaving after two and a half years was connected to a racism issue. Despite her reservations about racial inclusion within her student employment, she still appreciates her experience within Oakland and is currently pursuing a positive change.  

“Looking back at my time in Housing, there were things wrong that I see now that definitely could’ve been fixed if we just talked more about diversity, making everyone on the same page,” Saenz said.

Although college is known for promoting conversations about diversity, Oakland still requires constant change to strive for the best learning environment possible.

Just last year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 85,000 complaints of discrimination, and college demographics are not immune from complaints either. Oakland, too, still receives complaints solely related to racism. 

McKinsey and Company, an organization whose focus is evaluating business opportunities, recorded that companies who invite racial diversity outperform others by 35 percent. Oakland is open to these same increases in performance from students if racial diversity is not only discussed, but also implemented.

“We [Oakland University employment] make sure our advertising is reaching far and wide to ensure diversity in student employment,” said Sandra Alef, Assistant Director for Residence Life.

A Harvard Business Review in 2017 addressed just how helpful racial diversity can be within any organization because of the natural discomfort that applies to people of differing backgrounds. People are forced to build better communication skills to accommodate for cultural differences and inevitably form a more creative environment.