Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice Vocabulary

Definitions of Core Values

Western Michigan University holds the following as institutional values: diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice.  Our collective aim is to create a community where all may belong, and all may learn. These core values of the institution must be clearly articulated to ensure a shared understanding of what these values mean to us as a community. These values will demonstrate our policies, instruction, research, hiring, student engagement, and our ethos. We see these values as the foundation of our mission statement:

Western Michigan University is a learner-centered, research university, building intellectual inquiry and discovery into undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs in a way that fosters knowledge and innovation, and transforms wisdom into action.

  • DIVERSITY

    Diversity is a fact of our community, and asks us to consider the number and composition of membership in our community according to the representation of the aspects and attributes that differentiate groups and individuals according to some of (but not only) the following: race, ethnicity, age, sex, gender, gender expression, religious belief, worldview, physical and intellectual ability, sexuality, national origin, citizenship status, political beliefs, socioeconomic status, or level of education. We define diversity as an essential fact of this community, and an ongoing goal to support and enhance.

  • EQUITY

    Equity is our commitment to continuously evaluate systems and structures to identify and remove biases in the allocation of opportunities and resources to ensure everyone is provided with what is needed for them to achieve equal outcomes.

  • INCLUSION

    Inclusion means intentional actions that enable people of all different characteristics to take part in our community actively and fully. This comprises being intentional in the policy and practice of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized.An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people, and ensures they are culturally and socially accepted, welcomed, and equally engaged in the functioning of the institution. Belonging is the emotional outcome of inclusion work: the resulting sense of being a valued member of that group. 

  • SOCIAL JUSTICE

    Social justice is the belief that everyone deserves equal access to and participation in our community as well as equal economic, political, and social rights. This is the result of actions that broadly aim to share society’s burdens and benefits equally among all people.   

Appendix: Definitions of other common terms

In addition to defining our values, these are additional words and concepts that may assist us in understanding and demonstrating our community values.

Ableism is discrimination in favor of able-bodied people. “At its heart, ableism is rooted in the assumption that disabled people require ‘fixing’ and defines people by their disability. Like racism and sexism, ableism classifies entire groups of people as ‘less than,’ and includes harmful stereotypes, misconceptions, and generalizations of people with disabilities.” 

Ageism is prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person's age.

Bias is a positive or negative inclination toward a person, group, or community; can lead to stereotyping. Bias can be conscious or unconscious and impact how we interact with others. 

Climate – Climate-related factors internal to and within the control of individual colleges and universities, such as history and legacy of inclusion or exclusion, compositional or structural diversity, psychological dimensions, behavioral dimensions, and diversity leadership.

Culture - The shared customs, arts, and social institutions of particular people or other social groups.

Cultural Competence – The ability to effectively deliver education or services that meet the social, cultural, and linguistic needs of those being educated or served.

Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is a capability to work effectively across national, ethnic, and organizational cultures. Evidence-based strategies exist to help individuals and organizations enhance their (CQ) skills.

Discrimination – The unjust or prejudicial treatment of various categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

Gender Identity/Expression – A person's perception of having a gender, which may or may not correspond with their sex at birth.

Harassment – A form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. It is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetics.

Institutional racism is racial inequity within institutions and systems of power, such as places of employment, government agencies, and social services. It can take the form of unfair policies and practices, discriminatory treatment, and inequitable opportunities and outcomes.

Interpersonal racism is how our private beliefs about race become public when we interact with others. When we act upon our prejudices or unconscious bias—whether intentionally, visibly, verbally, or not—we engage in interpersonal racism. Interpersonal racism also can be willful and overt, taking the form of bigotry, hate speech, or racial violence.

Intersectionality - Coined by scholar Kimberle Crenshaw, as “the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups.”

LGBTQIA2S+ is an acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual or Agender, Two-Spirit. These terms are not synonymous, and the plus indicates there are many more sexuality and gender identities not included in this list.

Microaggressions – Manifestations of prejudice and hatred that are brief and/or subtle but great in the power or magnitude of their consequences.

Multiculturalism – The presence of, or support for the presence of, several distinct cultural or ethnic groups within a society.

Multiracial – A person identifying with two or more races as their primary identity.

Person of Color: a person who does not identify as White/Caucasian.

Race is a socially constructed system of categorizing humans based on observable physical features (phenotypes) such as skin color and ancestry. There is no scientific basis for or discernible distinction between racial categories. The ideology of race has become embedded in our identities, institutions, and culture, and is used as a basis for discrimination and domination. The concept of racism is widely thought of as simply personal prejudice, but in fact, it is a complex system of racial hierarchies and inequities.

Racial justice is the systematic fair treatment of people of all races that results in equitable opportunities and outcomes for everyone. All people can achieve their full potential in life, regardless of race, ethnicity, or the community in which they live. Racial justice—or racial equity—goes beyond “anti-racism.” It is not just about what we’re against, but also what we are for. A “racial justice” framework can move us from a reactive posture to a more powerful, proactive, and even preventive approach.

Racial microaggressions are brief and commonplace verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults to the target person or group. These hostilities add up and are described as racial weathering and can have significant effects on the mental and physical health and well-being of individuals from marginalized groups.  

Sexism is prejudice or discrimination, especially against women or girls, and today, against all genders. 

Systematic equity is a complex combination of interrelated elements consciously designed to create, support, and sustain social justice. It is a robust system and dynamic process that reinforces and replicates equitable ideas, power, resources, strategies, conditions, habits, and outcomes.

 

 Partial List of References

 

Anti-racism terms to help you confidently lead dialogue on campus. (2022, January 25). Retrieved from https://eab.com/insights/expert-insight/academic-affairs/important-racism-terms/?x_id=003C000001CuhoTIAR&utm_source=eabdb&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=eabdb&mkt_tok=NzMyLUdLVi02NTUAAAGAasvcAtku4SSNojilcRRWOUEWYMjNG4xxa94QwoWY5a3Ckd8YKa7o-vJkqgZ_JKeyJkW2CFtaLMtdWGmo3-l7Lq-lE57w1mG5SHT_uPDw1GOA3Q

Center for Urban Education. (2020). Laying the groundwork: Concepts and activities for racial equity work. Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California. 

Davis, A.M. (2021, April 26). Dignity is the bedrock for workplace belonging. Stanford Social Innovation Review. https://ssir.org/articles/entry/dignity_is_the_bedrock_for_workplace_belonging.

White, W. (2020). Diversity & Inclusion: Five essential leadership competencies of an effective D&I Practitioner. TalNet IncludeAll.  

WMU Campus Climate Survey. Retrieved from https://wmich.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/u299/2021/2020%20Campus%20Climate%20Report.pdf