Campus Climate

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Systemic and cultural power awarded to able-bodied/minded people at the expense of people who identify as disabled and/or are socially defined as having a disability.


The act or process of accepting. The state of being accepted or acceptable. Favorable reception; approval. Belief in something; agreement.


The extent to which a building or other facility is readily approachable and does not inhibit the mobility of individuals with disabilities. Accessibility can also refer to the extent to which curriculum and programming has been designed to accommodate the needs of individuals of all abilities, including cognitive, learning, and sensory.


A person who is not sexually attracted to anyone or does not experience sexual attraction. There is considerable diversity among the asexual community; each person experiences things like relationships, attraction, and arousal somewhat differently. Some people who identify as asexual consider themselves to not have a sexual orientation, while others consider asexuality to be a sexual orientation. Asexuality is distinct from abstinence and celibacy.

Affirmative Action

Proactive efforts to achieve equal employment opportunity and eliminate the effects of past and present discrimination, particularly on the basis of race and gender. The intent is to identify barriers to equal opportunity, eliminate the effects of bias (both conscious and subconscious), and achieve parity with workforce demographics among available and qualified individuals. Affirmative action is not: quota systems, lowering of job standards, selection of unqualified candidates, or reverse discrimination.


A member of a dominant or majority group who works to end oppression by supporting and advocating for the oppressed population in a respectful way, while acknowledging their own privilege. Allies to the LGBT community, racial, ethnic and religious minorities and women have been remarkably effective in promoting positive change in the dominant culture.


Taking on the traits of another culture, leaving the culture of origin behind.


An overall learned core disposition which guides an individual's thoughts, feelings and actions towards specific others and objects.


An inclination or preference either for or against an individual or group that interferes with impartial judgment. Bias can be conscious or subconscious, and is a product of socialization and life experiences that shape our perceptions and judgments.


A person who has significant romantic, emotional, physical and/or sexual attractions to members of both sexes. The frequency, intensity, or quality of attraction is not necessarily directed toward both sexes equally.


A person who is present at an event or incident but does not take part.

Bystander Effect

Phenomenon in which someone is less likely to intervene in an emergency situation when others are present than when they are alone.

Bystander Intervention

The willingness to assist a person who is in need of help.

Campus Climate

A measure - real or perceived - of the campus environment as it relates to interpersonal, academic, and professional interactions. The events, messages, symbols, core beliefs, feelings, and so, so much more - which make this a welcoming environment - or not - for all. Behaviors within a workplace or learning environment, ranging from subtle to cumulative to dramatic, that can influence whether an individual feels personally safe, listened to, valued, and treated fairly and with respect


Refers to an individual who is comfortable in the gender they were assigned at birth. There is a match between their assigned gender at birth, their bodies, and their personal gender identity.


At its most basic level, civility refers to showing others kindness, courtesy, and respect. Digging a little deeper, civility is about constantly being open to listen, to learn, to teach and to change. It seeks common ground as a beginning point for dialogue when differences occur, while at the same time recognizing that differences enrich our community.

Civil Union

A type of legal recognition given to non-married couples, particularly same-sex partners, so that they can have access to the benefits enjoyed by married heterosexuals. In the United States, civil unions are granted and recognized only in Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.


Classism is differential treatment based on social class or perceived socio-economic class. It is the systematic oppression of subordinated class groups to advantage and strengthen the dominant class groups (this includes systems of policies and practices that are set up to benefit the upper classes at the expense of the lower classes, resulting in drastic wealth and income inequality). It is also the systematic assignment of characteristics of worth and ability based on social class.


The prevailing attitudes, standards, or environmental conditions of a group, period, or place; the living, learning and working conditions. The atmosphere or ambience of an organization as perceived by its members. An organization's climate is reflected in its structures, policies, and practices; the demographics of its membership; the attitudes and values of its members and leaders; and the quality of personal interactions.


The process by which people's beliefs or behaviors are influenced by others, via subtle even unconscious processes or by direct and overt peer pressure. It is a group behavior. Factors such as group size, cohesion, status, prior commitment, presence of authority, and public opinion all help determine the level of conformity an individual will reflect toward his/her group.

Coming Out

"Coming Out" may refer to the process by which one accepts one's own sexuality, gender identity, or status as an intersex person. May also refer to the process by which one shares one's sexuality, gender identity, or intersex status with others. This can be a continual, life-long process for homosexual, bisexual, transgender, and intersex individuals.


A shared frame of reference consisting of learned patterns of behavior, values, assumptions and meaning; they are shared to varying degrees of interest, importance and awareness with members of a group. Culture is expressed in what we do, how we do it, what we say, and how we say it; it is how we identify ourselves and each other. These patterns can be seen in language, governing practices, arts, customs, holiday celebrations, food, religion, dating rituals, and clothing, but culture extends deep beneath these surface-level manifestations, and includes systems of belief, thought, perception, and interaction with the world.

Culture Competence

A commitment to social justice and inclusivity characterized by behaviors, attitudes and policies which foster mutual adaptation to cultural differences and enhance effective cross-cultural relationships.

Diffusion of Responsibility

Phenomenon whereby each bystander's sense of responsibility to help decreases as the number of witnesses increases. People incorrectly assume that someone else will help, but then nobody helps.


A mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual. Under applicable laws, a person who has a past record of having had a disability, or who is regarded by others having a disability, qualifies for protection.


Unfair treatment or denial of rights based on a person's race, skin color, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, religion, age, or other legally protected identity/status. Different state and federal laws may not grant the same protections to all individuals in all circumstances based on all of the above identity characteristics.


Reflecting variety among a group. The opposite of "homogenous". A descriptor for a group or organization that contains individuals or subgroups that are in some way different from one another. The word "diverse" is sometimes used incorrectly to refer to individuals or groups that are in the minority: persons of color, persons with disabilities, or persons who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender. (For example, the term "diverse faculty" as a euphemism for just faculty members of color.) When we refer to just these individuals, or these groups, as "diverse," we perpetuate the assumption that there is a "norm" - white, heterosexual, non-disabled - that is not "diverse".


Synonym for "difference": the sum total of all of the dimensions of difference that exist among people, including our identities, experiences, abilities, and worldviews. Diversity may be visible or invisible, but it exists in every interaction between two or more people. Dimensions of diversity include: gender, age, ethnicity, language, class, culture, sexual orientation, race, ability, etc.


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a government agency established to enforce non-discrimination laws.


Ethnicity is not just a person's race. Ethnicity is about tradition, history, language, culture, customs, and learned behavior.

Equal Opportunity

A system of employment or educational practices under which individuals are not excluded from any participation, advancement or benefits due to race, color, religion, sex, or national origin or any other action which cannot lawfully be the basis for limiting equal access.


Fairness and justice in allocating resources, opportunity, treatment and success. This is different from equality. Equality means getting the same, equity means getting what is fair.


A man whose primary romantic, emotional, physical and sexual attractions are to other men. This term can also be used to apply to lesbians, bisexuals, and on some occasions, be used as an umbrella term for all LGBT people.

Gender Identity

How one thinks of one's own gender. This conviction is not entirely contingent upon the individual's biological gender/sex.


A rejection of the gender binary (male/female) in favor of a more fluid, nontraditional identity.


Unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, and/or age. It is a form of discriminatory conduct. Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued access to employment or educational opportunities, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create an environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws. Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality. To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people. (See also: Sexual Harassment)

Hate Crime

A criminal act-such as vandalism, arson, assault, or murder-committed against someone because of his or her race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, age, gender, or other protected status, real or perceived. Hate crime laws typically increase the punishment applicable to the underlying criminal act, on the grounds that the act was motivated by bias. Hate crime laws vary by state.

Hate/Bias Incident

Any physically or verbally harmful act that is motivated by (or appears to be motivated by, in whole or in part) any of the following factors: race, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, disability, or other personal identity characteristic, real or perceived. All hate crimes are hate incidents, but not all hate incidents qualify as hate crimes-the act may not be a violation of law, or the targeted identity may not be protected under the state's hate crime laws.


The cultural bias in favor of opposite-sex relationships of a sexual nature, and against same-sex relationships of a sexual nature. Because the former are viewed as normal and the latter are not, lesbian and gay relationships are subject to a heteronormative bias. Heteronormativity also pertains to the practices and institutions that legitimize and privilege heterosexuality, heterosexual relationships, and traditional gender roles as fundamental and "natural" within society.


A person who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted or committed to members of the opposite sex.


Negative feelings, attitudes, actions or behaviors towards anyone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered, or perceived to identify as any of the above. Internalize homophobia is a fear of same-sex tendencies within oneself and can lead to repression.


Defines attraction to the same sex, and is one orientation on the continuum from homosexual to bisexual to heterosexual. Many prefer the terms "gay", "lesbian", or "bisexual" to describe their identities.

Inclusivity / Inclusion

When members of diverse social and cultural groups are actively included and the dignity of all people is respected so everyone can thrive and reach their fullest potential. Inclusive organizations fully value different perspectives and reflect the interests of diverse members throughout all levels and aspects of the organization. Full inclusion implies dialogue and sharing of power between members of all subgroups.

Internalized Oppression

The internalization of misinformation and negative beliefs about one's self by members of oppressed groups.


Is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn't seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.


A woman whose primary romantic, emotional, physical and sexual attractions are to other women.

LGBT (also GLBT)

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender


Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, Asexual Individuals, and their Allies.


Microaggressions are brief and commonplace everyday exchanges that communicate hostile, derogatory, denigrating or negative slights and insults to certain individuals because of their group membership. They are often automatic and well intended. There are three categories of microaggressions: microassaults, microinsults, microinvalidations. The term was first coined by African-American Harvard psychiatrist Chester Pierce in 1970.


Conscious, deliberate, and either subtle or explicit attitudes, beliefs or behaviors that are communicated to marginalized groups through environmental cues, verbalizations, or behaviors. These behaviors are intended to threaten, intimidate, and make individuals or groups feel unwanted and unsafe because they are deemed inferior, subhuman, and lesser beings.


Interpersonal or environmental communications that convey stereotypes, rudeness and insensitivity which demeans a person's racial/gender/sexual (etc) identity.


Communications or environmental cues that exclude, negate or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings, or experiential reality of certain groups (people of color, individuals who identify as LGBTQ, women).


Usually a marginalized group of people distinctive by ethnicity, race, color, economic class, gender, nationality or religion. While a minority in strict numerical terms is any subgroup that constitutes less than half of the whole group. In practice, a minority is any group disadvantaged directly or indirectly by existing policies and social practices, or having little power or representation relative to other groups within a society. (For example, even if women constitute a numerical majority in an organization or classroom, men may still exercise greater power in that space as a result of male privilege.) Under certain laws, "minority" is defined with reference to specific racial/ethnic groups: black, Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaskan Native.


A state of individual psychological well-being, as exhibited by confidence, usefulness, self-efficacy, and sense of purpose. The spirit of a group which makes the members want the group to succeed.


The multidimensionality of people based on different cultural attributes. In diversity work it means valuing the differences of others and creating an environment that does not require assimilation. Like "diverse," this term should ideally not be used to single out those individuals who are different from a perceived "norm" (e.g. "multicultural students" as a synonym for "students of color"). However, "multicultural" may be be used to refer to organizations or groups that explicitly embrace the values of multiculturalism in their work.


The belief that several different cultures (rather than only one dominant culture) can coexist peacefully and equitably in a single country (place, organization, institution). It is the acceptance or promotion of multiple cultures, applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level, e.g. schools, businesses, neighborhoods, cities or nations.


The systematic subjugation of one social group by another sanctioned by cultural beliefs and institutions. Examples are racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, ageism, ableism. Oppression = prejudice + power.

PGP (Personal Gender Pronoun)

A personal gender pronoun, or PGP, is simply the pronoun or set of pronouns that an individual would like others to use when talking to or about that individual. In English, the singular pronouns that we use most frequently are: I, you, she, her, he, him, and it. "I", "you" and "it" are what we call "gender neutral" or "all gender", but "she," "her," "he," and "him" are gendered. This can create an issue for transgender and gender nonconforming people, because others may not use the pronouns they prefer when speaking to them or about them. Hence, one way to be more inclusive and welcoming for all genders is to incorporate PGPs into regular intro activities.


Pluralistic Ignorance

Phenomenon whereby bystanders assume that nothing is wrong because no one else looks concerned. When all bystanders assume that no one else is upset or concerned, then all assume it is not a problem and nobody helps.


Attitudes and beliefs, without basis in facts or just grounds, held toward a particular group of people. Prejudgment on inadequate information.


A right, advantage, or immunity granted to or enjoyed by members of a given category of people (based on race, color, religion, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability, etc.) that is not available to people outside that category; an exemption in many cases from certain burdens or liabilities.

Prosocial Behavior

Any act performed with the goal of benefiting another person.


Not heterosexual. Originally used with negative connotations, but is currently being reclaimed by many within the LGBT community. Ask before using this term.


Someone who is questioning their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.


A local, geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by physical and cultural characteristics that are perceived to be similar. Race is a social construction with no basis in biology, but which nonetheless has very real social and cultural impact on the lives of people. Has also been defined as a group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality or geographic distribution.


Prejudice PLUS power; the systematic mistreatment of any group of people which isolates and divides human beings from each other; the systematic discrimination and exploitation of human beings on the basis of race


A resource or position that everyone has equal access or availability to regardless of their social group membership.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is unwanted, unwelcome attention directed toward a person's sexuality or sexual identity. It interferes with her or his equal employment/educational opportunity. It is a form of discrimination and an exercise of power. Sexual harassment may include sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, physical contact of a sexual nature, sexually demeaning or suggestive comments or gestures, or retaliation for rejecting or reporting any of these forms of conduct. It may involve an explicit "exchange" (quid pro quo) of sexual favors for employment/educational benefits, or it may involve sufficiently flagrant or repetitious conduct that interferes with work/school performance and/or creates a hostile environment.

Sexual Orientation

How one thinks of oneself in terms of to whom one is sexually or romantically attracted. Orientation is not dependent on physical experience, but rather on a person's feelings and attractions.

Social Justice

Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating an egalitarian society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being.


A preconceived or oversimplified generalization usually resulting in negative beliefs about a particular group. We may pick this up from what we hear other people say, what we read, and what people around us believe.


The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others. The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with. Tolerance is one step on the progression from ignorance/rejection to acceptance/embrace.


Used both as an umbrella term and as an identity. Broadly, it refers to those who do not identify or are uncomfortable with their assigned gender and gender roles. As an identity the term refers to anyone who transgresses traditional sex and gender categories.


The fear, hatred, or intolerance of people who identify or are perceived as transgendered.


People who feel that their gender identity is something other than their biological sex. Some transsexuals choose to use hormones and/or have an operation to change their physical anatomy to be congruent with their self-perception.


Someone who recognizes when something is wrong and acts to make it right. When an upstander sees or hears about someone being bullied, they speak up.

Upstander Flyer

White Privilege

A right, advantage, or immunity granted to or enjoyed by white persons beyond the common advantage of all others; an exemption in many particular cases from certain burdens or liabilities.