Tufts has hired K. Martinez, former Associate Director of the Diversity and First-Gen Office at Stanford University, to direct the Tufts Women’s Center. Martinez began their new role at Tufts on May 8.
The hiring concludes a semester-long, nationwide search to replace former Women’s Center Director Steph Gauchel, according to Dean of Student Affairs Mary Pat McMahon. Gauchel left the center last February to become Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at the Harvard Divinity School.
Martinez explained that they see the Women’s Center as a campus space for people of all identities.
“This isn’t my center; it’s our center,” Martinez said. “I think my job is to listen as much as possible to what the folks on the campus and the surrounding community are looking for from the space.”
McMahon said that the search committee sought to hire an individual capable of strengthening the Women’s Center’s presence on campus.
“We [were] really looking for somebody who will be a leader, a presence and builder in the space, but also connecting across the Group of Six and all the students… and K. is totally going to be that person,” McMahon said. “K. demonstrated the ability to meet student leaders and students … regardless of where they are.”
The search committee considered student opinions in the decision-making and hiring process, according to McMahon. She noted that about 120 individuals applied for the position.
“We had student input along the way, including several rounds of … students that met with the candidates during lunch time,” McMahon said. “[The] candidates gave presentations addressing issues relevant to the Women’s Center and to Tufts. … It was important to me that we partner with students all the way through.”
Nicholas Whitney, a graduate intern at the LGBT Center and graduate assistant at the Women’s Center, participated in the search process. Whitney expressed support for Martinez.
“I think that K. has the type of experiences and intellectual interests in order to center those in conversations and really move the center in the right direction,” Whitney said.
Made Bacchus, a junior who also participated in the search process, said that she hopes Martinez will allow for the Women’s Center to have a more intersectional presence on campus. In particular, she believes that Martinez will improve the space for women of color and non-binary, genderqueer and transgender students.
Martinez said that they resonated with the hiring committee’s description of an ideal candidate, which was somebody interested in discussing topics related to intersectional feminism and gender.
“When I was looking at the mission statement and the goals [for this position], I was particularly drawn to the language around talking about social justice and intersectional feminism and identity, and the harmful impact of the gender binary,” they said.
Martinez said they hoped to maintain the Women Center as a place for conversation, especially as a gender-nonconforming individual.
“[I had] people question my womanhood or my relationship with womanhood,” Martinez said. “I really want to make sure we are pushing whatever notions we have of gender and stereotypes … [through] having discussions about the impact of gender-binary and intersectionality, and intersectional feminism, especially trans-inclusive feminism.”
Martinez also emphasized the belief that the Women’s Center should be a place that welcomes everyone.
“I want all people to feel comfortable based on their identity, to go in the Women’s Center,” they said.
“However you identify, the Women’s Center is a place where you can come in and talk to people and we can work together.”
McMahon recognized Martinez’s potential to build upon Gauchel’s seven-and-a-half year legacy as director.
“Steph Gauchel was such a strong presence in the Women’s Center,” McMahon said. “And we knew we needed someone who would bring [that] presence to the Women’s Center and K. is going to doing that.”
McMahon also thanked all candidates who were interested in serving as Director, and stressed that it was a difficult decision.
“The Women’s Center student leaders have been deeply invested and committed to supporting this process … and I’m appreciative of their energy, patience and commitment,” McMahon said. “We had phenomenal finalists, there were other people who were incredible, so it was a really hard choice.”