Social Equity Definitions

Historical and current systems of oppression fundamentally impact our lives and the lives of the communities we serve. Our actions have important consequences, therefore, collectively and as individuals, we will prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion as urgent and critical to our success as an organization, as these values help us better serve students, employees, communities, and ourselves. As we commit to make our mission a reality, we acknowledge that we will make mistakes; we will hold ourselves accountable as individuals and as an organization to reflect and do better.  

In order to gain a better understanding of the concepts and foundations of the Social Equity Plan, we present the following list of definitions:  

Anti-Racism: “Anti-racism is the active dismantling of systems, privileges, and everyday practices that reinforce and normalize the contemporary dimensions of white dominance.” (Crenshaw)  

Diversity: The presence of different types of people (from a wide range of identities of ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, sexual identity, gender, religion, language, ability, and experience. This list is not finite, can change, and is intersectional beyond definition).   

Equity: The process of ensuring equally high outcomes for all and removing the predictability of success or failure in our experiences that correlates with any current or historical racism and systems of privilege that continue to disadvantage marginalized groups and privilege others.  

Inclusion: The process of putting diversity into action by creating an environment of involvement, respect, and connection—we value each individual, their backgrounds, and unique contributions.  We take collective responsibility for creating a caring culture, so that we can all be authentic and feel fully welcomed, valued, supported, and heard.  

Community of Care: A community where the organizational culture begins the process to shift from one of control to one of connecting (Bailey, Mrock & Davis, n.d.).  

Demographic Diversity: Differences in observable attributes or demographic characteristics such as age, gender and, ethnicity (Landy & Conte, 2007, p. 555).  

Historically Disadvantaged Group: A group in U.S. society that has been systematically discriminated against over a significant period of time (e.g. Native American/First People's, Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender communities).  

Institutional (as in institutional barriers): Refers to both the institution such as Clark College and systemic societal dynamics.  

Intersectionality: “A metaphor for understanding the ways that multiple forms of inequality or disadvantage sometimes compound themselves.” (Crenshaw) 

Marginalization: occurs in part when some observable characteristic or distinguishing behavior shared by a group of individuals is systematically used within the larger society to signal the inferior and subordinated status of the group (Cohen, 1999). 

Power and Privilege: Rights, entitlement, advantage, or immunity granted or enjoyed by certain people or groups of people beyond the common advantages of others.  

Psychological Diversity: Differences in underlying attributes such as skills, talents, personality characteristics, attitudes, beliefs, and values; may also include functional, occupational, and educational background (Landy & Conte, 2007, p. 555).  

Reciprocal Student Development Pipeline: A two-way, mutually beneficial relationship between the college and the community.  

Social Equity: Facilitate student learning by providing the conditions that improve educational outcomes and eliminate systemic disparities among all groups.   

Social Justice: Institutional commitment to produce equitable outcomes and challenge systems of power, privilege, and inequity.  

Social Group: People sharing a social relation sometimes based on demographic or cultural similarity.  

Systemically Non-Dominant* Groups: Systemically non-dominant* (Jenkins, 1995-present) refers to membership outside of the dominant group within systems of oppression. Systems of oppression are created to provide benefits and assets for members of specific groups. The recipient groups are referred to as dominant groups because such advantages grant impacting levels of power, privilege, and status within social, economic, and political infrastructures of a society. For example, such frameworks are established to specify who is in control and who is not, what is acceptable and what is unacceptable, and who will have access to resources and who will not.  

Universal Design: Universal Design involves designing products and spaces so that they can be used by the widest range of people possible. Universal Design evolved from Accessible Design, a design process that addresses the needs of people with disabilities. Universal Design goes further by recognizing that there is a wide spectrum of human abilities. Everyone, even the most able-bodied person, passes through childhood, periods of temporary illness, injury and old age. By designing for this human diversity, we can create things that will be easier for all people to use. 

White Supremacy Culture: the widespread ideology baked into the beliefs, values, norms, and standards of our groups (many if not most of them), our communities, our towns, our states, our nation, teaching us both overtly and covertly that whiteness holds value, whiteness is value (Okun). 


page updated 3/2023