Having facilitated training for more than 200 individuals as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender safe zone allies; 50 individuals in cultural competency 101; 16 LGBTQ facilitators; and between 7-10 individuals as secular safe zone allies, Dr. MarTeze Hammonds, associate dean for diversity and inclusion, is acting as a facilitator in the movement of the Tech campus from equality to equity.
“The number of trainings, the visibility, the education that we put out through this office has all been worth it,” Hammonds said. “You can tell the difference as you start hearing people across campus use some of the terminology and use some of the language, the inclusive language that we use here in this office.”
Aside from training sessions, Hammonds also teaches and mentors Arkansas Tech students. Some of these students are in the Registered Student Organizations that are under the Department of Diversity and Inclusion; others are general population students seeking guidance.
Although Hammonds has been making progress in the Tech community, “we have a lot of work to do,” Hammonds said. “Every day is a new challenge, there are new things that we face, we just have to face them head on. Be authentic about it. Be strategic and be deliberate about it and hopefully we are getting to where every student feels comfortable.”
In his efforts to create a diverse and inclusive environment here on campus, Hammonds said he is, “making sure whether its race, whether its sexual orientation, whether its religion or non- religion, disability or ability,” all those students have a sense of inclusion while they’re here at Tech.
Aside from his work at school, Hammonds is involved at his church, Longley Baptist Church, Southwest Little Rock.
“I drive an hour and 16 minutes to my church one way and I’m there about three times a week,” Hammonds said.
Hammonds serves as a ministry leader at his church leading a young adult ministry called HYPE, Holistic Young People Excelling. He also sings as a tenor, and sometimes alto, in his church’s choir.
Hammonds recognizes the controversy between the church and diversity and inclusion. He reconciles the controversy by believing that, “more than one truth can exist in a space and function,” Hammonds said.
“I try to live by that,” Hammonds said. “I do my best to make sure this office is grounded in that.”
Not matter what truth people believe, “if their truth is that they don’t believe in God or if they are non-religious, if they’re secular, if they have a worldview instead of a faith – that doesn’t mean that it should not exist. It doesn’t mean that we cannot work together and function,” Hammonds said.
Hammonds refers to the Bible, specifically, the book of Matthew, chapter seven, verse one, to explain how he lives out his life as both a dean of diversity and inclusion and a Christian.
“Matthew 7:1 tells us that we shouldn’t judge folks or we’re going to be judged… I don’t spend time judging people,” Ham-monds said.
Not everyone agrees with the way Hammonds believes and lives his life. “I’ve had people tell me that I’m going to hell for doing secular ally trainings,” Hammonds said. “I’ve had people tell me that I’m just all immoral working with the LGBT population and that I just bring out all this negative stuff, that ‘sin’, and that I’m elevating it.”
In response to the disparagement he receives, Hammonds said, “I look at them and tell them that the greatest gift that we have is love, and if we can love folks in the midst of everything else, then guess what — you don’t have to worry about all that other stuff,” Hammonds said.
“It’s not their religious affiliation that gets the work done, it’s not their sexual orientation or race that gets the work done. It’s the person, the character, who they are, that gets the work done.”