What's in a name? Equity, Belonging & Inclusion

What's in a name? As so many of our institutions have been closely examining what equity, belonging and inclusion means on our campuses, the AHEPPP Task Force deliberately chose its name.

Equity is a practice that understands that not all people need exactly the same resources (i.e. equality).  You may have seen the popular drawing (courtesy of Interaction Institute for Social Change” that simply demonstrates the difference between equity and equality. Equity is what the Task Force is striving for in AHEPPP; not that everyone gets the same resources, but that resources meet the needs of the membership and by extension, our students and families.

Why isn’t “access” included in the name?  The Task Force chose the term “belonging”, as the term access does not go far enough.  It is not enough to give our members access to our organization if they cannot utilize the resources.  Similarly, on our campuses, it is not enough for a student from a minority community to gain access to the college through admission.  True belonging indicates that the student gains admission and intentionally has access to the support they will need to be successful. 

equality vs equity
You may wonder why the Task Force rejected the word “diversity” for its name?  The word diversity has been thwarted to mean “others”.  While diversity actually covers everyone, the state of having variety, the usage has become a euphemism.  Diversity has been used to describe the opposite of the norm, which in our society historically has been white men.  Often when a hiring committee states it is looking for diversity in its search, it means that it would like candidates that are “other” than the norm.  Defining people as diverse is defining them by what they are not--white men (and very frequently cis-gendered, straight white men).  Rejecting the word diversity in this case has meant a deliberate non-acceptance of the norm. 

So what is a better definition than diversity?  The Task Force chose the word “inclusion”. Inclusion is not defined by what is lacking but by what is present. 

The Task Force on Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion will become the AHEPPP Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Council to help our association continue moving forward to social justice.

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