In recognition of the common usage of the terms “diversity,” “equity,” and “inclusion,” building a shared language helps inform our work and the community we seek to build at Willamette University. Importantly, a shared language among these three terms supports the development of the kind of community, where all members can learn and flourish, that is at the core of our mission as an educational institution. The creation of each definition was carefully developed by the University DEI Committee, keeping in mind that these terms are deeply interconnected, that actions must be associated with each word in order to properly engage in this work, and that we all enter Willamette at different places and leave not the same. The committee offers these definitions as an instrument to engage in meaningful conversations about how each term manifests in our respective areas of the university.
Diversity derives from a variety of factors that contribute to our intersecting identities including race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, class, religion, age, language, ability, and more. Our diversity provides opportunities to engage with and learn from community members with differing perspectives, beliefs, values, and lived experiences. We recognize that identity is complex and that definitions of diversity continue to evolve.
Equity means meeting the individual and community where they are, honoring what they need, and treating them and their needs with respect. Equity refers to the necessary commitment to identify and challenge the barriers that continue to prevent historically underrepresented and underserved populations from full participation in our community. Striving for equity takes perpetual evaluation of the environment, our actions, and policies to ensure access, justice, opportunity, and advancement for all community members of Willamette.
Inclusion occurs when each member of our community takes responsibility for creating environments for all to thrive. The practice of bringing people into connection must also encourage community members to be their authentic selves, centering their intersecting identities (both visible and invisible), so that they are realized and recognized. Acknowledging the dynamic nature of belonging, we must participate in ongoing review of how our community members feel respected and valued.