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OU Linguistic Diversity Initiative (OULDI)

Since the 1960s, linguists have been studying linguistic variation and resisting the myth of Standard English, but this work has had only limited impact on the general public and educational policy. Meanwhile, with a few exceptions, the role of language is an overlooked aspect in efforts for diversity, equity, and inclusion in even the most forward-thinking institutions of higher education. In the public sphere, linguistic discrimination continues to play a role in limiting access to housing and even equity in the criminal justice system, and largely targets people of color and those from low-income backgrounds. With the recent momentum behind #BlackLivesMatter, greater emphasis on diversity in the academic field of linguistics, and calls for major change in the teaching of language and literacy, it is time for our campus to respond. Oakland University is poised to become a regional leader in linguistic justice education and programming with the new Oakland University Linguistic Diversity Initiative (OULDI).

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OULDI is an inter-departmental campus-wide initiative that promotes an agenda of celebrating linguistic diversity and advancing linguistic justice at Oakland University and its affiliated communities. The mission of OULDI is to foster and support linguistic diversity at Oakland University by:

  • raising awareness of linguistic diversity in our communities,
  • expressing affirmation of the linguistic diversity on campus, and
  • practicing advocacy for the legitimacy of linguistic diversity and the importance of linguistic justice.

Toward these ends, OULDI will support linguistic diversity and linguistic justice in the Department of Linguistics itself through greater emphasis on linguistic diversity in departmental course offerings and promoting student research projects on under-studied languages. OULDI will also collaborate with other campus units and academic departments on student demo- graphic data collection, campus programming, and community outreach and engagement.

In terms of academics, OULDI's larger vision is to contribute to the diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field of linguistics by contributing to the diversity of languages studied, and more demographic diversity among linguists in the field. In terms of campus climate and student support, we hope to foster a stronger sense of belonging and satisfaction among language minority students all over campus, and better understanding and appreciation of linguistic diversity and how to combat linguistic discrimination campus-wide. Overall, we believe these efforts could result in higher retention and satisfaction among language minority students, as well as raising the profile of the university. How to assess these outcomes has not yet been determined, but we will consult with the appropriate offices on campus.

Efforts such as these are never complete and depend on the contributions of the entire OU community. As discussions about diversity expand and evolve so too must we. Thus, all are welcome and invited to join OULDI and help shape its mission. To receive updates and information about OULDI, or to learn how to become involved, please send an email to [email protected].

Linguistics Department

Fitzgerald House F113
614 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-2175
Fax: (248) 370-3144