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| About RVU | Office of Inclusive Excellence | Glossary of DEI Terms


One of the recommendations emerging from the DEIAC Climate Taskforce was the desire for the RVU campus community to have access to a common set of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) terms and definitions. The goal was to create a resource of concepts and terminology designed for community members to undertake dialogues about DEI from a common set of understandings.


Ableism - is a form of discrimination and prejudice against people with disabilities. It is rooted in the belief that people with disabilities are inferior or less valuable than those without disabilities.

Abolitionist medicine - is an approach to healthcare that seeks to address the root causes of health disparities, which are often rooted in systemic and institutionalized racism and inequality. This approach recognizes that healthcare is not neutral and that it can perpetuate or reinforce harmful social norms and practices. Abolitionist medicine is grounded in the belief that healthcare should be a fundamental human right and that it should be accessible, equitable, and just for all people, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender identity, or socioeconomic status. This approach emphasizes the importance of community-based care, patient-centered care, and cultural humility. Abolitionist medicine also recognizes the need for systemic change and advocates for policy changes that address the social determinants of health, such as housing, education, and employment. It seeks to challenge and dismantle the systems of oppression that underlie health disparities, such as mass incarceration, immigration enforcement, and police violence.

Access – the term access refers to educational institutions striving to ensure students have equitable and inclusive opportunities to all the benefits of education. To accomplish access requires that institutions examine and remove impediments to courses, programs, and activities.

Accessibility - the process of modifying multiple aspects of an institution allowing people with disabilities to be fully included and to succeed.

Active listening – is a listening technique for improving mutual understanding and relationship-building between individuals and groups. In active listening, one person clears the mind of clutter and intently listens, clarifies, and validates the other person. It is an essential element in diffusing conflict and seeking solutions to issues. This tool gives individuals the opportunity to identify what is active listening and why it is important in managing conflicts.

Aging and Geriatric Care -Education about the unique health needs and disparities faced by older adults. This includes education on age-related health conditions, end-of-life care, and strategies for providing patient-centered care to older adults.

Ally – The term used to identify an individual or group that actively works to support communities to which they do not belong. Examples are 1) an African American who works against heterosexism, 2) a male who supports members of a different gender identity, and 3) a Latinx person who fights against anti-Asian incidents of hatred.

Anti-racism – intentionally and actively working to change policies, procedures, beliefs, structures, communication, and other aspects of institutions that perpetuate racism. A person who works against racism is called an anti-racist.

Antisemitism - Antisemitism is a form of prejudice or discrimination against Jewish people based on their ethnicity, culture, or religion. Antisemitism can take many forms, including verbal or physical attacks, hate speech, negative stereotypes, or exclusion from social, economic, or political activities. It has a long history, dating back centuries, and has been used to justify acts of violence and oppression against Jewish individuals and communities. Antisemitism is widely regarded as a form of racism and is condemned by many organizations and individuals around the world.

Asset-based Approach – A strategy that conceptualizes individuals, groups, and communities as comprising of talents, gifts, and strengths as opposed to a deficit approach which highlights issues and deficiencies.


Belonging – is defined as “the capacity to see the humanity in those that are not like us and to recognize that the same elements that exist within them also exist within us.” To practice belonging, we have to see the humanity in other people even at those times when they do not see our humanity.  Ginwright, S.A. (2022). The four pivots: Reimagining justice, reimagining ourselves. North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA.

Bias - is defined as favoring of or against one person, group or thing compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair. Biases can be conscious or unconscious – explicit or implicit. In addition, bias can be institutionalized into policies, practices and structures.

BIPOC - stands for “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color” highlights and acknowledges the struggles of Black and Indigenous communities, but also includes other people of color. The term also attempts to move away from “minority” and “marginalized”, terminology that denotes less than or inferiority.

Bisexual - An individual who is attracted to people of both their own gender and other genders.


Calling-in – is defined as a respectful invitation to one-on-one dialogue about a person’s harmful words or behavior regarding prejudice, discrimination, or microaggressions. Calling-in considers the person’s history of sensitivity to issues of discrimination, the relationship with the individual who is doing the calling-in, and the willingness of the person to be educated and change regarding their behavior.

Calling-out – is defined as the technique of addressing in a public way a person’s harmful and insensitive discriminatory or prejudicial remarks designed to embarrass and confront the offender.

Chosen Name - A chosen name (sometimes known as a preferred name, a nickname, or a name-in-use) is the use of a name, usually a first name, that is different from a person’s legal name.

Cisgender (adj.) – A person whose gender identity and assigned sex at birth correspond (i.e., a person who is not transgender).

Cognitive empathy – is defined as the ability to understand another person’s world view (also known as perspective-taking or putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Cognitive empathy is imagining what it might be like to be in another person’s situation.

Cultural Competency - Cultural competency refers to the ability of healthcare providers to understand, respect and effectively work with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. Medical schools should include courses or modules on cultural competency that provide students with knowledge and skills to provide culturally sensitive care to patients from different ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds.


Deaf culture - The shared language, values, beliefs, and customs of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, which can differ from mainstream hearing culture.

Deficit Approach – a perspective that conceptualizes individuals, groups, and communities as being devoid of talent or gifts and blames them for their failures.

Disability - A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as walking, seeing, hearing, or learning.

Disability Health - Medical schools should include education about the health needs and disparities faced by individuals with disabilities. This includes education about physical and mental disabilities, as well as strategies for providing accessible care.

Disorders of Sex Development (DSD) (noun) – Group of rare conditions where the reproductive organs and genitals do not develop as expected. Some DSDs include Klinefelter Syndrome and Androgen Sensitivity Syndrome. Sometimes called differences of sex development. Some people prefer to use the term intersex.

Disproportionate impact - When a policy or practice has a significantly different impact on different groups of people, resulting in unequal outcomes.

Diversity - RVU defines diversity as the recognition, reflection, and representation of individual differences within a community including, but not limited to culture, race, age, ethnicity or national origin, color, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, spiritual practices, political beliefs, mental and physical ability, socioeconomic status, individual life experiences, or other ideologies.


Environmental Justice - Medical schools should provide education on the impact of environmental factors on health outcomes and strategies for addressing environmental injustices in healthcare. This includes education on the impact of pollution, climate change, and other environmental factors on health outcomes.

Environmental racism - refers to the disproportionate exposure of marginalized communities, typically those composed of people of color and low-income individuals, to environmental hazards such as pollution, toxic waste, and other environmental risks. These communities are often located near hazardous waste sites, landfills, and other sources of pollution. Environmental racism can manifest in many different ways, such as the siting of polluting industries in or near communities of color, the unequal distribution of environmental benefits and burdens, and the lack of access to clean air, water, and other basic environmental amenities. It is rooted in systemic and institutionalized inequalities that perpetuate the marginalization of certain communities, resulting in a disproportionate impact on their health and well-being.

Equity – RVU defines equity as the implementation of unbiased policies and practices to ensure everyone has access to opportunities along with needs-based distribution of resources to obtain positive outcomes so that all individuals and groups may attain their full potential and no one is deprived regardless of identity, abilities, background, or socially determined circumstances.

Equity-Mindedness - refers to the action by practitioners who call attention to patterns of inequity in student outcomes.

Explicit bias - occurs when an individual is conscious and knowledgeable of his or her biases and knowingly practices those biases against other people.


Fair housing - The right to access and choose housing without discrimination based on one's race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristics.

Feedback - Providing constructive feedback to individuals or organizations about their behavior or practices in order to promote positive change.

Feminism - The belief in and advocacy for the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes, and the movement to achieve gender equality.

First-generation - Refers to individuals who are the first in their families to attend college or university.

Fluidity - Refers to the idea that aspects of identity, such as gender or sexuality, can be fluid and change over time.

Forgiveness - The act of letting go of anger or resentment towards others, often in the context of addressing and repairing harm caused by discrimination or bias.

Foreign-born - Refers to individuals who were born outside of the country they are currently living in.


Gay - is a term that can refer to a sexual orientation in which a person is primarily or exclusively attracted to people of the same gender. For example, a gay man is attracted to other men.

Gender-based Violence - Medical schools should provide education on the impact of gender-based violence on health outcomes and strategies for addressing it in healthcare. This includes education on screening for domestic and sexual violence, trauma-informed care, and resources for survivors.

Gender binary (noun) – The idea that there are only two genders, male and female, and that a person must strictly fit into one category or the other.

Gender dysphoria – the term used to describe the distress that is present when there is a disconnect between the assigned gender at birth and the gender with which a person identifies.

Gender identity – the gender that people perceive themselves to belong including male, female, or a combination of both. A person’s gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.

Gender non-conforming - A broad term referring to people who do not behave in a way that conforms to the traditional expectations of their gender, or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a category. While many also identify as transgender, not all gender non-conforming people do.


HBCU – Historically Black Colleges and Universities – the US Higher Education Act of 1965 defines an HBCU as: "any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary of Education.”

Health Disparities - Health disparities refer to differences in health outcomes between different populations or groups. Medical schools should teach students about health disparities and their root causes, as well as strategies to address them.

Health Equity - Health equity refers to the principle that all individuals should have access to the resources and opportunities needed to achieve optimal health outcomes. Medical schools should provide education on health equity and strategies for addressing health disparities in healthcare.

Health Literacy - Health literacy refers to the ability of individuals to obtain, understand, and use health information to make informed decisions. Medical schools should provide education on health literacy, its impact on patient care, and strategies for addressing it.

Heterosexual - refers to a sexual orientation in which a person is primarily or exclusively attracted to people of a different gender. For example, a heterosexual man is attracted to women.

Hierarchical microaggressions – are defined as everyday comments and slights that communicate the devaluating of staff based on their occupational role in the workplace.
Young, K.; Anderson, M.; and Stewart, S. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, v8 n1 p61-71 Mar 2015.


Identity - a person's sense of self based on their individual and collective characteristics, including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and other factors.

Implicit bias – Bias that is unintentional and takes place at the unconscious level. While perpetuating unconscious bias that results in discriminatory behavior, people are unaware of their perspectives, perceptions, and actions to the determinant of out-groups or marginalized communities.

Inclusive Excellence - A strategy for transforming RVU into an institution that conceptualizes inclusiveness and excellence as one in the same, embeds DEI in all aspects and dimensions of the university, assigns responsibility for inclusiveness to everyone on campus, and utilizes a broad definition of diversity.

Inclusivity – RVU defines inclusivity as the dynamic process of creating a welcoming environment that increases awareness, knowledge, and empathetic understanding to enable individuals with diverse backgrounds, abilities, insights, and experiences to interact in an open, fair, respectful, equitable, and collaborative fashion.

Inclusive Mindfulness - is defined as the perspective or mode of thinking exhibited by people in the workplace and other contexts that focuses affective, active, intentional, and thoughtful inclusion of people from diverse backgrounds including micro-affirmations, cordiality, allyship, support, and kindness.

Ingroup favoritism – the tendency to favor and positively evaluate those groups to which they belong and allocating more cognitive, emotional, social, and economic resources to them. The concept is also known as in-group-out-group bias or in-group preference and manifests in positive evaluations and allocation of resources to one’s group.

Intersectionality - Intersectionality refers to the ways in which different identities and social positions intersect to shape experiences of discrimination and oppression. Medical schools should provide education on intersectionality and its impact on health outcomes, as well as strategies for addressing it in healthcare.

Indigenous - referring to the original inhabitants of a specific geographic region or area.

Indigenous Health - Medical schools should include education about the unique health needs and disparities faced by Indigenous communities. This includes education about historical trauma, cultural safety, and the impact of colonialism on Indigenous health.

Intersectional Feminism - a feminist theory that considers the intersections of multiple identities, including race, class, and gender.

Indigenous Health - Medical schools should include education about the unique health needs and disparities faced by Indigenous communities. This includes education about historical trauma, cultural safety, and the impact of colonialism on Indigenous health.

Islamophobia - prejudice or discrimination against individuals who are Muslim or perceived to be Muslim.


Jargon - the specialized language and terminology used within certain professions or groups, which can create barriers to understanding and inclusion for those who are not familiar with it.

Jewish-American Identity - the experience of being Jewish and American, and the challenges and opportunities that come with navigating both identities.

Justice - the concept of fair and equal treatment for all individuals, particularly those who have historically been marginalized or oppressed.


Kindness - the importance of treating others with empathy, respect, and compassion, which can create more inclusive and equitable communities and promote positive social change.

Kinship - the relationships and networks of support that individuals have with others who share similar identities or experiences, which can be critical in building community and promoting equity and inclusion.

Knowledge Gaps - the lack of understanding or awareness of diversity, equity, and inclusion issues that can create barriers to progress in addressing systemic inequalities.


Language Access - Medical schools should include education about language access and the importance of providing interpretation and translation services to patients with limited English proficiency. This includes education on best practices for working with interpreters and providing culturally sensitive care to patients who speak languages other than English.

Latinx/e – is a gender-neutral term employed to refer to people who identify with, relate to, or are marked by Latin American heritage.

Lesbian - is a term used to describe a woman who is primarily or exclusively attracted to other women.

LGBTQIA+ - is an acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual or Ally, and the "+" is used to include additional identities that are not explicitly mentioned. It's important to note that this acronym is not comprehensive, and there are many other identities and experiences within the LGBTQIA+ community. Additionally, not everyone identifies with or uses these terms, so it's important to always respect and use the language that individuals use to describe themselves.

LGBTQIA+ Health - Medical schools should include education about the unique health needs and disparities faced by LGBTQIA+ individuals. This includes education about gender-affirming care, hormone therapy, and mental health issues that affect this population.


Mainstreaming - the integration of individuals or groups who have historically been excluded or marginalized into the mainstream of society, which can help to promote equity and inclusion.

Male Privilege - the advantages and benefits that men experience in society simply because of their gender, which can contribute to gender inequality and limit opportunities for women and other gender minorities.

Marginalization - the process of pushing individuals or groups to the margins of society, denying them access to resources and opportunities, and limiting their ability to participate fully in society.

The Medical model and the Social Model - are two different approaches to understanding disability. The medical model of disability views disability as a medical problem that needs to be fixed or cured. According to this model, people with disabilities are seen as having a deficit or impairment that needs to be treated by medical professionals. The focus is on the individual's medical condition and finding ways to cure or manage it. The medical model emphasizes medical diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation, and often views disability as an individual problem rather than a social one. In contrast, the social model of disability views disability as a result of the interaction between the individual and society. According to this model, disability is not solely caused by the individual's medical condition, but also by the social and physical environment in which they live. The focus is on removing societal and physical barriers that prevent people with disabilities from fully participating in society. The social model emphasizes the need for accessibility, equal rights, and inclusion for people with disabilities.

Microaggressions - subtle, everyday acts of discrimination or bias that communicate derogatory or negative messages to individuals based on their identity.

Minority - a group of people who are numerically underrepresented or disadvantaged in society, often due to discrimination or historical disadvantage.

Misgendering - the act of using language or pronouns that do not align with an individual's gender identity, which can be disrespectful and invalidating.

Microinequities - small, subtle acts of discrimination or bias that can accumulate over time and contribute to larger patterns of inequality and exclusion.

Multiculturalism - the recognition and celebration of the diversity of cultures within a society, and the promotion of equal respect for all cultural groups.

Multiracial - describing individuals or groups with multiple racial identities or ancestries, which can create unique challenges and opportunities for navigating multiple cultural worlds.

Multilingualism - the ability to speak multiple languages, which can enhance communication and understanding across cultural and linguistic barriers and promote inclusion and diversity.


Name-based microaggressions – are subtle or overt, verbal or behavioral discriminatory comments and actions that individuals from diverse backgrounds experience based on their ethnic origin and last names.  These range from mispronunciation to ridicule to assigning nicknames.

Naming (discrimination) – is the process of highlighting discrimination that is obvious (everybody knows it is there), but no one wants to acknowledge and expose it.

Neurodivergent - is a term used to describe people whose neurological development and functioning are atypical or divergent from the dominant or typical pattern. It is often used to describe people who have neurological conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and Tourette syndrome, but can also refer to other neurological differences. The term "neurodivergent" emphasizes the idea that neurodiversity is a natural variation in human neurological development, and not necessarily a disorder or deficit. It acknowledges that different neurological profiles can offer unique strengths and abilities, as well as challenges. Neurodivergent people may have different ways of perceiving, processing, and responding to information and stimuli, which can impact their experiences and interactions in various settings, including education, work, and social situations. The concept of neurodiversity promotes the idea that society should be more accommodating and accepting of neurodivergent people, rather than trying to force them to conform to the dominant or typical neurological profile.

Neurominority - is defined as any group that differs from the majority of the population in regard to behavioral traits and brain function.

Neurotypical - is a term used to describe people whose neurological development and functioning are considered typical or within the range of what is considered normal. It is often used to refer to people who do not have neurological conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, or Tourette syndrome, but can also refer to people without other neurological differences. The term "neurotypical" emphasizes the idea that the dominant or typical neurological profile is not the only valid way of being and that there is diversity in the way people's brains develop and function. It acknowledges that different neurological profiles can offer unique strengths and abilities, as well as challenges. Neurotypical people may have typical ways of perceiving, processing, and responding to information and stimuli, which can impact their experiences and interactions in various settings, including education, work, and social situations. However, it is important to note that the term "neurotypical" does not imply that everyone who falls within the typical range of neurological functioning has the same experiences or abilities. Rather, it serves as a contrast to the term "neurodivergent," which describes those whose neurological functioning is atypical or divergent from the norm.

Non-binary - a non-binary person is someone who does not identify as exclusively a man or a woman. Someone who is non-binary might feel like a mix of genders, or like they have no gender at all.


Occupational Segregation - the phenomenon of certain occupations being dominated by individuals of a particular race, gender, or other identity group, which can perpetuate inequalities and limit opportunities for marginalized groups.

On the spectrum - refers to the specific set of behavioral and developmental problems and the challenges associated with autism spectrum disorder. A diagnosis of ASD means that your child’s communication, social, and play skills are affected in some way.

Openness - a willingness to engage with and learn from diverse perspectives and experiences, which is essential for promoting inclusion and equity.

Oppressional TNT – is defined as the expression of emotions and behaviors, such as anger, sorrow, frustration, raising one’s voice, and gestures, directed at members of oppressor groups during intergroup interactions resulting from a history of oppression, as well as on-going systemic and daily encounters with oppression.

Oppositional sexism – the belief that male and female are ridged and mutually exclusive categories suggesting that a man does not posses any of the  attributes, aptitudes, and desires commonly associated with women and vice-a-versa.

Oppression - systemic and institutionalized mistreatment of individuals or groups based on their identity, which can result in unequal access to resources and opportunities.

Orientation - a person's sexual or romantic attraction to others, which can be an important aspect of identity and can shape experiences of discrimination and marginalization.

 Organizational Culture - the shared values, beliefs, and practices that shape the behavior of individuals within an organization, and can impact the level of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Othering - the process of viewing individuals or groups who are perceived as different as "other" or "outsiders," which can lead to discrimination and exclusion.

Otherness Bias - the tendency to view individuals or groups who are perceived as different as inferior or less deserving of respect and rights.

Outgroup bias - The tendency to dislike members of groups that we don’t identify with. We not only have negative feelings and ideas about people who are not part of our group, but we also tend to exhibit hostility towards them.

Outgroup - a group of people who are perceived as different or not belonging to a particular social or cultural group.

Overrepresentation - the over-representation of certain groups in specific fields or areas, which can reflect patterns of systemic bias and discrimination.


Pansexual - sexually or romantically attracted to people regardless of their sex or gender.

Passing - passing occurs when members of a racial, ethnic, or religious group present themselves as belonging to another such group. Passing and oppression go hand-in-hand in that people would have no need to pass if institutional racism and other forms of discrimination did not exist.

Patriarchal - characteristic of an entity, family, church, etc., controlled by men:

People-first language - Person-first language is language that puts a person before their diagnosis, such as being a person with a disability.

People of color – a  racial group(s) identified by individuals who see themselves different from the white race or those of European ancestry.

Pipeline Problem - the idea that there is a lack of diversity in certain fields or industries due to a lack of qualified or interested candidates from underrepresented groups, which ignores systemic barriers and biases that limit access to opportunities.

Polygender - the term polygender describes people who experience multiple genders, either simultaneously or varying between them.

Polyamory - the practice of having multiple romantic or sexual relationships simultaneously, which can challenge traditional notions of monogamy and promote inclusivity and respect for diverse relationship structures.

Power - possession of control, authority, or influence over others.

Power Dynamics - the relationships and imbalances of power between individuals or groups, which can impact the ability to create inclusive and equitable environments.

Pronouns – gendered pronouns specifically reference someone's gender: he/him/his or she/her/hers. Non-gendered or nonbinary pronouns are not gender specific and are most often used by people who identify outside of a gender binary.

Privilege - refers to certain social advantages, benefits, or degrees of prestige and respect that an individual has by virtue of belonging to certain social identity groups.

Prejudice - preconceived beliefs or attitudes about individuals or groups based on stereotypes or limited information, which can lead to discrimination and bias.

Pronouns - the words used to refer to an individual's gender identity, which can be an important aspect of creating inclusive and welcoming environments.


QPOC/QTPOC – initialisms that stand for queer people of color and queer and/or trans people of color.

Queer - a term used to describe individuals whose gender identity or sexual orientation does not conform to heterosexual or cisgender norms. While the term has been historically used as a derogatory slur, it has been reclaimed by many individuals as a positive and inclusive identity.

It's important to note that not all individuals within the LGBTQIA+ community use the term "queer" to describe themselves, and some may find it offensive or triggering. As always, it's important to respect the language that individuals use to describe themselves and their experiences.

Questioning -term used to describe those who are in a process of discovery and exploration about their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or a combination thereof.


Race - is a social construct used to group people. Race was constructed as a hierarchal human-grouping system, generating racial classifications to identify, distinguish and marginalize some groups across nations, regions and the world. Race divides human populations into groups often based on physical appearance, social factors and cultural backgrounds.

Racism - Biological classification by race is the basis for racism, which is the belief that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. A racist is someone who follows the beliefs of racism. The systemic and institutionalized oppression and discrimination against individuals and groups based on their race or ethnicity.

Racial justice - is a vision and transformation of society to eliminate racial hierarchies and advance collective liberation, where Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, in particular, have the dignity, resources, power, and self-determination to fully thrive

Restorative justice – is a framework that seeks to examine the harmful impact of a crime and then determines what can be done to repair that harm while holding the person who caused it accountable for his or her actions. Accountability for the offender means accepting responsibility and acting to repair the harm done.

Refugee and Immigrant Health - Medical schools should provide education on the unique health needs and disparities faced by refugees and immigrants. This includes education on cultural barriers to care, trauma-informed care, and the impact of immigration policies on health outcomes.

Religious Diversity - Medical schools should include education on religious diversity and its impact on healthcare. This includes education on religious beliefs and practices that may affect medical decision-making, as well as strategies for providing culturally sensitive care to patients from diverse religious backgrounds.

Representation - the degree to which individuals from diverse backgrounds are included and represented in various settings, such as media, politics, or workplaces.

Respect - a fundamental value of DEI that involves treating all individuals with dignity, empathy, and understanding, regardless of their background or identity.

Retention - the ability of organizations and institutions to retain employees, customers, or members from diverse backgrounds by creating inclusive and equitable environments.

Racial Equity - the achievement of equal outcomes and opportunities for individuals and groups of all races, which requires addressing systemic racism and inequalities.

Reconciliation - the process of repairing relationships between individuals or groups that have been harmed or marginalized, which can involve acknowledging past harms, promoting forgiveness and healing, and working towards greater equity and justice.

Restorative Justice - a justice model that focuses on repairing harm and addressing the needs of all involved parties, rather than solely punishing the offender. This approach can promote healing and reconciliation for individuals and communities affected by crime or harm.

Reverse Discrimination - a controversial term used by some to describe the perception that affirmative action or diversity programs unfairly advantage individuals from underrepresented groups over those who belong to majority groups. However, many DEI experts argue that this term is not accurate or useful, as it ignores systemic inequalities and the historical context of discrimination and marginalization.

Reasonable Accommodation - a legal requirement in some jurisdictions that employers or institutions provide accommodations for individuals with disabilities or other protected characteristics, such as religious beliefs or gender identity, in order to promote equity and inclusion.


Safe space - a place or environment in which a person or category of people can feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment, or any other emotional or physical harm.

Scoliosexuality- (sometimes spelled Skoliosexuality), is the attraction to people who are transgender or nonbinary. People who are transgender identify as a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth. They may identify as a man, a woman, or neither.

Social Determinants of Health – are the factors and conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that impact multiple risks and outcomes related to health, functioning, and quality of life.

Social justice – is defined as the perspective that every human being deserves equal economic, political, and social rights and opportunities.

Social stigma (noun) – Negative stereotypes and social status of a person or group based on perceived characteristics that separate that person or group from other members of a society.

Stimming - refers to the natural behavior of self-stimulation. It may include nail biting, drumming your fingers on a surface, or full body movements like rocking or swaying. Stimming is part of the diagnostic criteria for autism, although it is not always related to autism.

Structural oppression – is defined as discrimination and inequities perpetuated by the policies, practices, cultural representations, and other norms of an institution. Structural “isms” are not just practiced by a few individuals or institutions, rather discrimination is a feature of the social, political, economic, health, and religious systems in which we all participate and benefit.


Third gender - a person who identifies as a gender other than male or female or as neither male nor female.

Tokenism - the practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to do a particular thing, especially by recruiting a small number of people from underrepresented groups in order to give the appearance of sexual or racial equality within a workforce.

Transgender – The term that describes individuals whose gender identity and/or expression differs from cultural expectations that are based on the assigned sex at birth.

Transitioning - The process of shifting toward a gender role different from that assigned at birth, which can include social transition, such as new names, pronouns and clothing, and medical transition, such as hormone therapy or surgery.

Transphobia - irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against transgender people.

Trauma-informed care - is an approach to healthcare that recognizes the widespread impact of trauma on individuals and communities and seeks to create a safe and supportive environment that promotes healing and recovery. This approach is rooted in the understanding that trauma is an experience that affects people physically, emotionally, and mentally, and that it can have long-term effects on a person's health and well-being.

Triad of Impairment – describes the difficulties that those with Autism have a on a daily basis. The Triad is made up of three areas of difficulty. Social Communication. Social Interaction. Social Imagination or Rigidity of Thought patterns.

Two-spirit - Traditionally, Native American two-spirit people were male, female, and sometimes intersexed individuals who combined activities of both men and women with traits unique to their status as two-spirit people. In most tribes, they were considered neither men nor women; they occupied a distinct, alternative gender status. In tribes where two-spirit males and females were referred to with the same term, this status amounted to a third gender.


Underrepresented - a term used to describe individuals or groups who are not proportionately represented in a particular setting, such as a workplace or educational institution, based on their demographic characteristics.

Unconscious Bias - biases that individuals may hold without being aware of them, which can influence their attitudes, behaviors, and decision-making processes. Unconscious biases can be based on factors such as race, gender, age, and other aspects of identity.

Universal Design - a design approach that aims to create products, environments, and experiences that are accessible and inclusive for people of all abilities, ages, and backgrounds.

Unity - the state of working together and supporting each other despite differences in identity, background, or opinions. Unity can be an important value of DEI efforts, as it promotes collaboration and understanding across diverse communities.

Underrepresented minority (URM) - group whose representation is disproportionately less than their proportion in the general population; often racial or ethnic minority is implied, but can be used to represent any identifier, such as LGBTQIA+, disabled, gender, etc.

Understanding - a fundamental value of DEI that involves seeking to understand and learn from different perspectives and experiences, rather than assuming or judging based on stereotypes or biases.

Undocumented - a term used to describe individuals who do not have legal documentation or authorization to reside in a particular country, which can lead to a range of social, economic, and legal challenges. It is important to note that many undocumented individuals face discrimination and exclusion, and that their status does not define their value or contributions to society.

Unfair Advantage - an advantage that certain individuals or groups may have based on their identity, privilege, or access to resources, which can contribute to systemic inequalities and exclusion for others.

Unequal Treatment - the unfair or discriminatory treatment of individuals or groups based on their identity or characteristics, such as race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Upstander - a person who takes proactive and positive action to address instances of discrimination, harassment, or exclusion towards others, rather than remaining a passive bystander.

Urban/Rural Divide - a term used to describe the economic, social, and cultural differences between urban and rural areas, which can lead to disparities in access to resources and opportunities.


Validation - the act of acknowledging and affirming the experiences, feelings, and perspectives of individuals, which can promote a sense of belonging and inclusion.

Values - the fundamental beliefs and principles that guide the actions and decisions of individuals and organizations. Values can be an important aspect of DEI efforts, as they can promote equity, inclusion, and respect for diverse perspectives and identities.

Value Alignment - the alignment of organizational values and practices with DEI principles, which can promote greater equity, inclusion, and engagement among employees and stakeholders.

Veteran - a person who has served in the military, which can be an aspect of identity that requires unique support and accommodations in educational and workplace settings.

Visibility - the degree to which individuals from diverse backgrounds are represented and visible in various settings, such as media, politics, or workplaces. Increasing visibility can promote greater awareness and understanding of diverse perspectives and experiences.

Victim-Blaming - the act of blaming individuals who have experienced harm or discrimination for their own experiences, rather than holding perpetrators or systemic issues accountable. Victim-blaming can perpetuate harmful attitudes and biases, and can contribute to a culture of exclusion and marginalization.

Visible Diversity - the observable and physical characteristics that make individuals unique, such as race, gender, age, and physical ability. Visible diversity can be an important aspect of identity, but it is important to recognize that it is only one aspect of diversity and that there are many other factors that contribute to individual experiences and perspectives.

Voice - the ability of individuals to express their perspectives, opinions, and concerns, which can promote greater participation, empowerment, and inclusion. Creating space for diverse voices is an important aspect of DEI efforts.


Wage gap - The difference in pay between different groups of people, such as between men and women, or between people of different races or ethnicities.

Weaponized Incompetence - Weaponized incompetence, also known as strategic incompetence, refers to the deliberate feigning of incompetence to avoid certain tasks or responsibilities.

Whiteness - The social and cultural norms and values that are associated with being white, which can perpetuate systemic racism and privilege.

White fragility – discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted by information about racial inequality and injustice.  Oxford languages

Women of color - Women who identify as non-white, including Black, Indigenous, Latina, Asian, Pacific Islander, and other women of color.

Womxn - A gender-neutral alternative spelling of "women," used to be more inclusive of people who identify outside of the gender binary.


Xenophobia - the fear or hatred of people who are perceived to be foreign or different, often based on their nationality, ethnicity, or cultural background. Xenophobia can manifest in various forms, such as discrimination, exclusion, or violence.



Zero Tolerance - a policy or approach that enforces strict and immediate consequences for any violation of a particular rule or standard. Zero tolerance policies can be used in various contexts, such as schools, workplaces, or law enforcement, and can have important implications for issues of equity and justice.

Zealotry - a term used to describe an excessive or fanatical devotion to a particular cause, ideology, or belief system. Zealotry can contribute to the perpetuation of harmful attitudes and behaviors, such as extremism, intolerance, or prejudice.

Rev. 12/12/23


Letter from the Provost | Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Update

May 24, 2021

Letter from the Provost | Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Update [May 19, 2021 – Parker, CO] Dear RVUCOM community, The University is committed to create a safe and welcoming environment where all can thrive. This is a commitment that we are taking very seriously and have been working diligently to making DEI an ongoing key strategic focus. The four Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force (DEITF) groups (Community, Curriculum, Communication, and Climate) completed their work at the end of March culminating in formal presentations to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Council (DEIAC). Following these presentations, the DEIAC met to […]

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Letter from the Dean | Reflections on Violence in Our Society

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Black History Month Newsletter

March 1, 2021

Black History Month Newsletter | February 2021 Pioneers of Science, Medicine, and the Arts Contributions by Adrian Clark, Diversity and Inclusion Officer For Black History Month, RVU spotlighted several Black American men and women who made significant contributions to the fields of science, medicine, and the arts. These pioneers include Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, who performed the first open heart surgery in 1893; Katherine Johnson, mathematical genius who mapped the trajectory of the first American manned flight into space; Vivien Thomas, who developed a procedure used to treat blue baby syndrome; and Berry Gordy Jr., founder of the iconic Motown […]

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