SUU Students at Zion's National Park

Shared Language

This glossary provides a brief introduction to several key terms that are often a part of discussions around equity and inclusion. It is not comprehensive, but is a living document aimed at providing SUU a central starting place for conceptualization, discussion, and cooperation. This resource is meant to foster understanding and clarity and is best utilized as a way to align communication and collaboration.

Key Terms

Accessibility.The degree to which a person can participate in an activity or use a product, technology, or navigate an environment across various abilities and disabilities.

Antiracism & antiracist.Anti-racism is the active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices, and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably.

Asset-based Thinking.A strengths-based lens that focuses on individual, group, and community resources, talents, capital, opportunities, and networks, rather than problems or deficiencies.

Counter-narrative.Counter-narrative refers to the narratives that arise from the vantage point of those who have been historically marginalized.

Cultural Competence & Cultural Humility:

Cultural Competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals and enable that system, agency, or those professions to work effectively in cross-cultural situations (not only multicultural situations).


Cultural humility is a lifelong process of self-evaluation and critique, promotion of interpersonal sensitivity and openness, addressing power imbalances, and advancement of an appreciation of intracultural variation and individuality to avoid stereotyping. Cultural humility encourages an interpersonal stance that is curious and other-oriented.

Culturally Responsive. Recognizing the diverse cultural characteristics and knowledge of learners as assets.

Deficit-based Thinking. Deficit-based thinking is the focus on a community’s needs, deficits, or problems rather than its assets, strengths, or opportunities. Deficit language often highlights individuals rather than systems and structures that have led to marginalization. Examples include referring to students as at-risk or underprepared rather than underserved. See Asset-based Thinking.

Diversity. Diversity includes all how people are different.

Equity.The provision of customized resources needed for all individuals to reach common goals which require the recognition and analysis of historic, persistent factors that have created an unequal [higher] education system.

Equity Gaps.Disparities in underserved populations’ access to and success in education and employment opportunities due to systemic barriers.

Equity Lens Framework. An equity lens framework is a tool comprised of shared beliefs, common definitions, and critical questions through which an organization commits to continually evaluating any existing or new strategy, policy, or initiative.

Equity-mindedness.Equity-mindedness refers to the perspective or mode of thinking exhibited by practitioners who call attention to patterns of inequity in student outcomes.

Emotionally Attracted To.Romantic/emotional orientation...

Gender. Describes a set of characteristics that traditionally have been associated with binary biological differences associated with men/masculinity and women/femininity. It is a social construct that is connected to cultural and societal norms and now is understood to include a spectrum of gender identities.

Gender Identity. One’s the internal sense of being male, female, neither of these, both, or another gender(s).

Gender Expression. The physical manifestation of one’s gender identity through clothing, hairstyle, voice, body shape, etc.

Heteronormativity. A term coined by social theorist and literary critic Michael Warner in 1991 to identify how social institutions and dominant culture are oriented around the assumed normal, natural, and ideal logic of heterosexual attraction and unions.

Implicit bias. The unconscious associations we hold about groups of people or individuals from a particular identity. This often leads to cognitive shortcuts like relying on stereotypes or taken-for-granted assumptions.

Inclusion.The active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity—in ways that increase awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication, and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions.

Intersectionality.The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage; a theoretical approach based on such a premise.

Latinx. An emerging (and sometimes contested) gender-neutral term is used sometimes in place of Latino (which is often used interchangeably with Hispanic) to describe a group of people of Latin American descent.

LGBTQIA.An umbrella acronym meant to be inclusive of many identities including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (often shortened to LGBTQ or LGBTQ+)

Marginalization.The process through which persons are peripheralized based on their identities, associations, experiences, and environment.

Microaggression. Brief and commonplace slights experienced by marginalized groups in day-to-day interactions usually occur outside the conscious awareness of well-meaning people.

Minoritized.A word that is generally preferred in place of a minority. While the word minority may mean less than half of a group, or a smaller part of a larger group, the connotation is related to being “lesser than.” Minoritized reflects the systemic and structural realities in place that push people and communities to the margins

Neurodiversity.Is an asset-based viewpoint that ascertains that certain developmental disorders are normal variations in the brain and people who have these features also have certain strengths.

Physically Attracted To. Sexual orientation. Sexual and romantic/emotional attraction can be from a variety of factors including but not limited to gender identity, gender expression/presentation, and sex assigned at birth.

People (person) of Color or POC. An umbrella term primarily used to describe people who are not considered White. The term emphasizes common experiences of systemic racism which some communities have faced and can be used with other collective categories of people such as "communities of color", "men of color" (MOC), "women of color" (WOC), etc.

BIPOC - An acronym standing for “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.” The term has become increasingly popular as a way to highlight the divergent or shared needs and concerns of these distinct communities.

Personal pronouns.Pronouns an individual uses to refer to their gender identity or expression. (e.g. she/her, he/him, they/their). The use of pronouns in spaces like email signatures, zoom names, and business cards normalize the practice of learning how to refer to folks based on their self-identification.

Privilege.A right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed by a particular person or a restricted group of people beyond the advantages of most.

Race.A social construct and fabrication, created to classify people on the arbitrary basis of skin color and other physical features. Although the race has no genetic or scientific basis, the concept of race is important and consequential. Societies use race to establish and justify systems of power, privilege, disenfranchisement, and oppression.

Racism. The combination of individual prejudice (attitudes) and individual discrimination (actions), on one hand, and structural and systemic conditions and practices that reproduce inequalities along racial lines for groups that have experienced a history of discrimination. Prejudice, discrimination, and racism do not require intention. For definitions of specific types of discrimination as they relate to SUU, please refer to the SUU Policies and Procedures.

Sex Assigned at Birth. The assignment and classification of people as male, female, intersex, or another sex based on a combination of anatomy, hormones, chromosomes.

Safe & Brave Spaces:

Safe spaces are judgment-free zones, based on identity or experience where people are affirmed for their lived experiences. The goal of these spaces is supported.


Brave spaces are stretching zones, which encourage dialogue around differences and hold participants accountable for sharing experiences and coming to new understandings. The goal of these spaces is learning and improvement.

Sexism.Any act, gesture, visual representation, spoken or written words, practice, or behavior based upon the idea that a person or group of persons is inferior because of their sex, which occurs in the public or private sphere, whether online or offline.

Socialization. Socialization is the process through which we become accustomed to societal norms (rules) about appropriate or acceptable social identities, beliefs, and behaviors.

Social Justice. Both a process and a goal, social justice is a broad term that connotes the practice of allyship and coalition work to promote equality, equity, respect, and the assurance of rights within and between communities and social groups.

Underrepresented and Underserved. For this framework, an underrepresented group is any student or employee group that has traditionally held a smaller percentage of the total higher education population. Underrepresented groups are disproportionately represented in a quantitative comparison to an equivalent counterpart. Underserved refers to any group or individual that has been denied access and/or whom systems have marginalized due to operationalized deficit-based thinking (see Deficit-based Thinking). Underserved groups are not necessarily numerical minorities.

For more details about the OEI glossary visit the OEI Shared Language Detailed version.


The Office of Equity and Inclusion