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To imagine and realize a common vision, we must have a common source to gather around and to draw from. Our shared understanding of these terms, even if we learn of their shortcomings, can guide our conversation, our work, and our action.  

The set of terms and definitions presented here aim to form a common understanding of these terms from which members of the University community may draw:

  • to assist in imagining the University for the Common Good;
  • to assist in the development, execution and assessment of a strategic plan for diversity, equity and inclusion;
  • to support clear and compelling internal and external communication; and
  • to nourish productive and open dialogue.

The definitions listed here represent our hopes, align with our commitments to social justice, and reflect our obligations to promote and protect the dignity, rights and respect of all persons, particularly those persons who have been historically or systemically oppressed, underrepresented, or underserved because of their social identities.

Definitions are not static. Over time, and with experience, learning and reflection, they may change. The experiences of people with varied identities, social locations, and cultures will continue to develop. We recognize that the examples below are not comprehensive, and we are bound by the limits of our imagination, vision and understanding. People must be empowered to choose how they wish to identify themselves, and our definitions must express humility in the face of their experiences. 

Anti-Racism/Anti-Racist Policy
  • Anti-racism calls for explicitly taking race into account in order to disrupt racialized hierarchies for the sake of promoting social justice and respect for human dignity. Colorblindness, or ignoring race, is often code for white and often has the consequence of perpetuating white supremacy.
  • The presence, recognition and engagement of people of social, political and organizational identities from the wide range of human experiences, and the complex ways these identities intersect and are expressed.
  • Names a process of modifying structures and practices that have intentionally or unintentionally advantaged or disadvantaged groups of people; it is a process that responds to unjust structural outcomes to create laws, policies, practices and traditions that support just outcomes for all.
  • Categorization of humans based on common national or cultural traditions.
  • Describes complex, interdependent and intersecting worldwide systems (e.g., environmental, sociocultural, economic and political), legacies and implications.
  • A process and practice of active, intentional and sustained engagement of each person in the community that values and respects their perspectives, multiple identities, experiences and contributions. 
Inclusive Climate
  • Cultivates practices, policies and traditions that include diverse people and perspectives, especially those from historically and systemically oppressed, underrepresented and underserved populations.
Inclusive Excellence
  • Recognizes that diversity, equity, and inclusion are fundamental to academic and institutional excellence. Inclusive excellence requires a comprehensive, cohesive and collaborative alignment of infrastructure, resources and actions.
Intergroup/Intercultural Competency
  • The process of listening, learning and reflecting to develop knowledge, skills, attitudes and commitments to engage across diverse groups in open, effective and socially responsible ways. 
  • Engagement, cooperation and/or dialogue across lines of religious or worldview difference that involves forming relationships, fostering positive attitudes, and developing appreciative knowledge among people who orient around religion differently. 
  • A framework for conceptualizing interlocking oppressions based on the interconnected nature of historically and systemically oppressed, underrepresented and underserved groups. As identities do not exist independently of each other, intersectionality makes visible the complex convergence of overlapping and interdependent systems of privilege and oppression.
  • The presence of people with diverse identities and social locations that appear in beliefs, values and norms, which include behaviors, assumptions and values, patterns of thinking, and communicative styles.
  • The presence of members of a variety of ethnic groups with a shared history, kinship and geographical location, and the recognition of the historical influence and impact of their commonality.
  • The presence and celebration of a diversity of religious identities and worldviews regarding the transcendent. 
  • Names the advantages, favors and benefits conferred on members of dominant groups at the expense of members of marginalized, underrepresented or underserved groups.  It operates and conveys power on personal, interpersonal, cultural and institutional levels.  The scope and depth are largely invisible to those who have it. 
  • Categorization of humans based on socially defined physical characteristics (such as related to skin color, hair texture, eye shape, etc.) Race is not a biological feature, but a socially constructed, cultural variable phenomena.
  • Racism can take many forms such as subtle racism, internalized racism, colorism, colorblind racism, systemic racism, environmental racism, etc. The underlying foundation of racism is that humans can be divided into racial groups and ranked as inferior or superior to one another. Most definitions of racism account for the historic and contemporary impact of power, oppression, and privilege which normalizes white supremacy. Racism intersects with other forms of subordination such as sexism, classism, heterosexism, ableism, etc.
Social Justice
  • The work to eliminate historic and systemic oppression and to build systems and cultures of human dignity where rights, accountability, equity, inclusion and access to the common good create conditions for people and communities to realize their full potential. 
Supplier Diversity 
  • The proactive integration of minority-owned, woman-owned, veteran-owned, disabled-owned, and other small, disadvantaged businesses into the development and execution of institutional direct and indirect spending.
Systemic Racism
  • The complex interaction of culture, institutional policy, and historical decisions that maintain inequitable circumstances, treatment, and outcomes for persons and communities based on racial identity. Systemic racism is evident in hateful and violent behavior towards people of color, but also in normalized policies and practices that create and maintain disparities in social indicators of well-being including, but not limited to, wealth, education, health, the criminal justice system, employment, housing, and politics.
Underrepresented Populations
  • Underrepresentation describes the extent to which the proportion of certain U.S. racial/ethnic groups relative to the total campus population fails to mirror their proportion in the broader U.S. population. For our purposes, the term underrepresented populations refers to members of the student body, faculty, staff, administration, parents, trustees, alumni, and guests who self-identify with real and socially constructed human dimensions of race and ethnicity, including American/Alaskan Native, Black/African American, Latinx/Hispanic/Chicanx, Asian American, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander American, biracial or multiracial, and gender identification.
Underserved Population
  • Members of the student body, faculty, staff, administration, parents, trustees, alumni, and guests who may not have access to full benefits of economic, social and political opportunity. Dimensions may include race, religion/spirituality/faith, ethnicity, ability, national origin, immigration status, sex, gender identity, gender expression, attraction/sexual orientation, social class/socioeconomic status, and language. This list is not exhaustive.  



Office of Diversity and Inclusion

St. Mary's Hall
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 1626