University Terms and Definitions Key

Language is powerful. Many of the terms we use today are situated within an evolving historical narrative that continues to impact how each of us navigates the world. The goal of providing background and definitions for the terms listed below is to help us improve dialogue about a variety of social topics. When we better appreciate the power of our words and the weight they carry, we can reduce several misunderstandings by strategically thinking through the way we describe our thoughts and experiences. More importantly, a common linguistic framework helps us to listen and better understand each other as we engage in these exchanges.

As a university striving to be a place where all belong, we must recognize that the historical unequal distribution of power and resources impacts current experiences and future possibilities of individuals engaged in higher education in the United States. In order for belonging to take place, each person and their experiences must be centered.

As a public university for the public good, it is our responsibility to ensure that each student, faculty, staff, and community member has the ability to participate without barriers and to feel affirmed. At BGSU this means understanding the power of our words and the language we choose to use.

Diversity is the recognition of intersecting identities and social hierarchies, particularly related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, and socio-economic status. (Modified from BGSU Inclusion Network, 2012, as cited in Student Affairs Diversity Committee, 2014).

Belonging is an ongoing process of finding and creating connections. It is about the extent to which students, faculty, and staff feel valued, respected, included, and empowered. When people belong, they experience being affirmed by the campus community, inclusive of the people, physical spaces, and organizational structures within that community (adapted from Strayhorn, 2018, p. 4).

Equity is the practice of ensuring that personal or social circumstances, such as protected class or intersecting identities, are not obstacles to achieving one’s potential. Equity is reflected in policies and processes which acknowledge that we live in a world where not all members are afforded the same resources, treatment, and opportunity, and works to remedy this fact (modified from Equity and Quality in Education, 2012).

Inclusion is an active process that engages the community to cultivate an environment that sustains and affirms all members, particularly those from historically marginalized or minoritized groups. It is a commitment to distribute privilege and influence across differences and a willingness to act on this commitment (BGSU Focus on the Future Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion and Diversity Strategic Plan Committee, 2019). 

Updated: 04/09/2024 10:18AM