The UAF Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Dictionary (DEIA Dictionary), a product of the Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence (SP-IE), is a living resource that provides the UAF community with a shared institutional language for common diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility terms. This dictionary is meant to be used as a tool to help facilitate understanding and clarity in UAF DEIA work.


DEIA dictionary

We understand that the meanings and connotations of words often change over time and may no longer be appropriate. The DEIA Dictionary is intended to evolve alongside society with our changing language and ever-growing understanding of DEIA. It is impossible to create perfect definitions, so we welcome your comments and suggestions. Thank you for helping us grow and embrace a culture of respect, diversity, inclusion, caring, accessibility and accountability here at UAF.

Table of Contents

Ableism is bias against people with physical and/or mental disabilities. It can take the form of blatant discrimination or be subtler like perpetuating stereotypes or failing to ensure that events and content are accessible. Because America was not built with people of different and widely varying abilities in mind, we live in an ableist society.

When someone has access, not only do they possess the tools they need to fully participate and succeed in the UAF community, they feel empowered to do so. Accessibility is the goal of ensuring that everyone can enjoy the same experiences at UAF regardless of mental or physical ability or other barriers.

As an institution, we are committed to fostering a culture of respect, diversity, inclusion, caring, accessibility, and accountability. If we are informed that our actions are unknowingly in opposition to that goal we will acknowledge and work to rectify the mistake. As members of an interconnected community, every one of us is responsible for holding each other accountable to our shared community values.

Setting and achieving goals; making choices to use our words and behaviors to be proactive allies, creating positive change in our communities and fostering justice. (UAF Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence Core Values).


A collective term for the various Indigenous Peoples who are from the land now designated as the state of Alaska.

To exclude or make one feel as if they don’t belong. We must ensure that everyone feels safe, welcomed, respected and included as members of the UAF community. We want everyone to be a part of the solution, and that means meeting people where they are and helping them get involved without judgment.

The active, consistent, and challenging practice of unlearning and re-evaluating, in which a person holding systemic power seeks to end oppression in solidarity with a group of people who are systemically disempowered.

Opposing the assumed, compulsory, deeply-rooted Western societal norms, values, beliefs, knowledge systems and practices imposed during the acquisition of Indigenous lands and domination of Indigenous Peoples

Unlearning and opposing the assumed, compulsory, deeply-rooted Western societal norms, values, beliefs, knowledge systems and practices imposed during the acquisition of Indigenous lands and domination of Indigenous Peoples.

Transforming policies, practices, systems and structures to be more racially equitable. Anti-racism recognizes the intersectionality of various forms of power and oppression at work in our society and lives. Engaging in anti-racism simultaneously breaks down white supremacy (and the -isms it supports, such as colonialism, ableism, sexism, homophobia, etc.) while lifting up those most marginalized (UAF Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence Core Values). The opposite of “racist” isn’t “not racist,” it’s “anti-racist.” Anti-racism recognizes the need for individuals to identify as active vehicles for racial justice. Being “not racist” is passive, making those individuals permissive bystanders of racism.

A person who experiences little or no sexual/romantic attraction to others and/or lacks interest in sexual/romantic relationships/behaviors. (LGBTQ2IA+)

Assimilation is the process by which a group, either voluntarily or by force, fully adopts the dominant culture and renounces or abandons their native culture. Immigrants are often made to feel like the only way they will be accepted and achieve success in America is to assimilate to white/Western culture. Alaska Natives were subjected to forced assimilation through boarding schools from the 1930s through the 1970s. These schools were an attempt to permanently erase Alaska Native culture under the guise of "education." Learn more about Alaska boarding schools.


Accurate insight and knowledge of a topic. Awareness also refers to one’s acknowledgment of their privileges and times when they may have harmed others, intentionally or unintentionally. This introspection is often painful but it is necessary. No one is a perfect person or perfect ally, and the sooner a person realizes this, the sooner they can become a true, proactive ally who is committed to continually learning and growing.

Barriers are bureaucratic, societal, mental or physical obstacles that prevent a person from fully and meaningfully participating at UAF.

1) a person who experiences attraction to men and women; or 2) a person who experiences attraction to people of multiple genders — usually both those of their own gender and other genders. It is sometimes used interchangeably with “pansexual.” (LGBTQ2IA+)

Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC - pronounced “bye-pock”) is a term used to refer to non-white people. Although Black and Indigenous folks are People of Color, they are specifically brought to the forefront in this term due to the unique and particularly heinous history of discrimination and systemic oppression they’ve endured in the United States.

Structured environments where DEIA topics can be discussed respectfully and in good faith. These spaces have established ground rules and often have facilitators to ensure that all parties are adhering to these terms of engagement. They are environments that honor and invite full engagement from folks who are vulnerable while also setting the expectation that there could be uncomfortable or even oppressive words or actions that the facilitator and allies have a responsibility to address (adapted from Portland Community College Office of Equity and Inclusion).

The quality or state of having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty (Merriam-Webster). Bravery is required for diversity, equity and inclusion work because, by their very nature, DEIA goals defy the status quo and face systemic, continuous resistance.

Bystander training teaches and empowers people to be active bystanders. They are taught how to recognize unsafe or potentially unsafe situations and intervene to stop the harm. Active bystanders are essential in creating and preserving a culture of respect, diversity, inclusion, caring, accessibility and accountability. Learn more about UAF’s Bystander Training.

In a culture of caring, each person would show kindness and compassion as part of daily life. In a culture of caring, we would demonstrate care toward others and ourselves, and we would recognize one another as a “whole person.” There would be a proactive and preventive focus on improving mental health and well-being (Chancellor’s Strategic Plan Goal #5).


Most people who are assigned female at birth identify as girls or women, and most people who are assigned male at birth identify as boys or men. These people are cisgender (or cis) (Planned Parenthood).

Colonization occurs when a group moves into an area already inhabited by Indigenous Peoples and takes over the land and resources as well as establishes control over the local population. Since the United States was colonized by Westerners, the majority of our history books, practices, societal norms, and the very fabric of our country are from one viewpoint and value system. Indigenous Peoples in Alaska have been subjugated and oppressed by various groups and governments resulting in a loss of land, resources, autonomy, culture, knowledge, and identity.

Depictions of historical figures, events, and groups that are meant to glorify and honor their subject while masking any of their complicated or unflattering facets. The romanticization of the Gold Rush is an example of this, with prospectors typically being celebrated as resilient, entrepreneurial explorers while failing to recognize the negative impact that they had on the Indigenous Peoples and their land.

How prepared the community is to take action to address a particular issue.

Individuals and entities that are invested in the development and growth of UAF, and/or individuals who may be impacted by decisions made or actions taken.

Silos of ideas and resources prevent the exchange of perspectives and further hinder our goal of creating a culture of respect, diversity, inclusion, caring, accessibility and accountability. We want our students, staff, faculty, and community members to meaningfully interact with one another to create real growth and change.


Co-production of knowledge in this context refers to the contribution of multiple knowledge sources and capacities from different stakeholders spanning the science–policy–society interface with the goal of co-creating knowledge and information to inform environmental decision-making (Lemos and Morehouse, 2005).

Careful examination and discussion regarding the progress of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility efforts at UAF. Critical conversations may feel uncomfortable at times, especially for individuals with privileged identities, but having intentional, vulnerable conversations is essential to the process of working towards equity and inclusion.

A critical framework suggests wider scope for reflective activities to achieve depth of reflection, which can validate learning at any stage of the developmental process of criticality. Critically reflective activities combine self-reflection and rational discourse for metacognition, inquiry and metacritique for an inclusive reflective practitioner role (Lawrence-Wilkes & Ashmore, 2014).


Pertinent, appropriate, or inherent to a culture. It is important to include diverse culturally-relevant information and practices in UAF policies, processes, and content.

In the context of UAF’s Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence, culture change refers to the process of transforming dominant cultural and societal norms that oppress individuals from non-dominant groups into ones that center equity, value belonging, support people, and move us towards justice.

Unlearning compulsory and assumed Western ideas and values, removing the structures that uphold and perpetuate these ideas and values, and replacing them with new values and processes that center Indigenous perspectives while also acknowledging and incorporating the values, ideas and perspectives of other oppressed groups.


Educational material and delivery methods that remove Western/white bias, provide a factual holistic view of the topics being delivered and are taught in a culturally informed way. Decolonized curriculum recognizes that there isn’t one ‘correct’ way to teach, learn, or deliver knowledge so long as the information is being understood by all parties and that real-world knowledge is equally as valuable as traditional academic knowledge.


Productive, respectful, and well-informed discussions had in good faith, with the goal of understanding and finding common ground. Everyone has something to learn from these exchanges and they are essential to growing a culture of respect, diversity, inclusion, caring, accessibility and accountability. Brave spaces are designed to facilitate these discussions.

Direct actions are tangible steps taken that subsequently result in actual change. Donating to causes, protesting, starting organizations, and rewriting policies are just a few examples of direct action.

A physical or mental aspect of a person that prevents or inhibits them, in certain environments, from fully participating and enjoying some life activities. Disabilities may be visible or invisible. Disabilities often become apparent when environments, materials, policies and procedures are not created to support individuals of all abilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity (ADA National Network).

Discrimination is negative, destructive, exclusionary behavior and action (treatment) towards an individual or group of people based on their actual or perceived group membership (race, gender, sex, ethnicity, etc.) and may include both overt and covert behaviors, including microaggressions, or indirect or subtle behaviors (e.g., comments) that reflect negative attitudes or beliefs about a nonmajority group. Discrimination denies individuals or groups access to power (G2 Diversified Services). UA has policies and procedures (UA Notice of Nondiscrimination, UA Regents' Policy and University Regulation, UAF Office of Rights, Compliance and Accountability - Reporting Options) in place to address discrimination, however, structures and systems with discriminatory elements must also be transformed or replaced with equitable ones. The goal of UAF’s Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence (SP-IE) is to address those systemic issues.

Representing a wide array of backgrounds, experiences, and identities. Diversity is one piece of the DEIA puzzle. Not only should our administrators, faculty members, staff, students, and community members represent the wide breadth of experiences and identities that are present in our community, but they should also feel valued and hat they belong. A culture that embraces diversity at UAF would include individuals representing a wide array of backgrounds. At UAF, the variety of community members would be respected and a source of pride. There would be representation that includes diversity within our leadership. With representation, there would be increased opportunities for mentorship. By embracing diversity, the UA population would reflect the state demographics (Chancellor’s Strategic Plan Goal #5, UAF Affirmative Action Plans, UAF Facts and Figures). Diversity is being asked to the party, Inclusion is being asked to dance (Vernā Myers).

Educational excellence means that students are receiving the resources, support, and knowledge they need, not only to succeed in their studies at UAF but to succeed and bring about positive change in their life and community after graduation.

Emotional work is the task of absorbing information regarding DEIA, processing it, and letting it inform your beliefs and actions. Confronting your own biases or ways that you may be contributing to discrimination is difficult, uncomfortable, and unending but it is necessary and essential to the process of creating a culture of respect, diversity, inclusion, caring, accessibility and accountability.


To be instilled with the knowledge and confidence to create meaningful positive change. Along with physical and psychological safety, proper access to support, resources,  encouragement and community help foster and grow empowerment.

The ways we think about and validate knowledge. Traditionally, only knowledge obtained through written Western academic exploration has been treated as valid and true. Alternate ways of knowing, such as information shared orally by Indigenous Elders, have been devalued, discounted, and disrespected. This narrow definition of what constitutes “valid” knowledge hinders exploration, understanding, and growth.

Ensuring all individuals have access to resources, support, positions, and pay they need to succeed (UAF Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence Core Values). Equity is the fair distribution of resources that removes avoidable barriers to access. In a perfect world, people would be able to reach their potential with the same/equal resources as everyone else. However, due to current and historical discrimination against certain groups, the game has been rigged. Equal access to resources just means that less advantaged groups continue to have fewer resources and encounter more systemic barriers than their more favorably situated counterparts. It’s important that folks receive equitable support to counteract these systemic disadvantages.

Discrepancies in success, treatment, outcomes or opportunities between groups, indicating insufficient access to resources, support, positions and/or pay.


A worldview that, implicitly or explicitly, posits European/Western history and values as “normal” and superior to others, thereby helping to produce and justify Europe's dominant position within the global capitalist world system (Adapted from Universität Bielefeld).

Generally used with another term attached, like “gender-fluid” or “sexually-fluid,” “fluidity” describes a sexual, gender, romantic, etc. identity that may change or shift over time between or within available options. (LGBTQ2IA+)

The insecurity and defensiveness elicited when one is forced to confront their privilege, participation, and complicity in discriminatory systems. Being told that something you’ve said or done is offensive and discriminatory is uncomfortable and this fragility is something we must overcome in order to become better allies.


Experiencing attraction solely to members of the same gender (typically, but not exclusively, in reference to men). It is also sometimes used as an umbrella term used to refer to the queer community as a whole, or as an individual identity label for anyone who is not “straight.” (LGBTQ2IA+)

Gender is the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with a sex. Gender identity is a person’s internal, deeply held sense of being male, female, some combination of male or female, or neither male nor female.

Gender expression is the external manifestations of gender, conveyed through a person’s name, pronouns, clothing, haircut, behavior, voice, body characteristics, etc.

Gender identities and/or expressions that exist outside of masculine or feminine norms. (LGBTQ2IA+)

The idea that in order to fully understand someone or something, you must view them as a whole, examining both their facets independently as well as how those pieces interact and fit together. UAF strives to foster and promote holistic learning, which recognizes students as learners, community members, caretakers, and more, intentionally welcoming their diverse experiences into academic spaces as a strength.

Examining past events and figures from all viewpoints. This analysis disrupts victor bias and helps to provide context and greater understanding.


Bias against people who are not heterosexual or perceived as heterosexual. Homophobia manifests itself in overt ways like physical violence or denying queer people human rights (safety, housing, employment, marriage, adoption, etc.) or more covertly through microaggressions such as assuming every person has a heterosexual partner or that queer affection is inappropriate for public spaces or children. Even though queer relationships have been documented and accepted in many different cultures and periods throughout history, there has been a persistent and violent history of homophobia in America.

Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.

Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control. Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness. Rather, implicit biases are not accessible through introspection. Implicit biases are malleable. Our brains are incredibly complex, and the implicit associations that we have formed can be gradually unlearned through a variety of debiasing techniques (Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity).

Ensuring all members of our community are welcomed, supported, and involved in creating a sense of belonging without judgment. (UAF Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence Core Values).


An inclusive culture goes beyond embracing diversity to ensure all members of our community are welcomed and supported. In this environment, all people can participate and succeed. A culture of inclusion at UAF would mean that our environment — from displayed artwork to marketing materials — would reflect our diverse community. Students would feel supported from their first day, and would be able to see themselves represented at all levels and in all positions at UAF, from the student body to faculty and administrative leadership (Chancellor’s Strategic Plan Goal #5).


The design of mainstream products and/or services that are accessible to, and usable by, as many people as reasonably possible without the need for special adaptation or specialized design.

Indigenous Peoples are culturally distinct societies and communities. The land on which they live and the natural resources on which they depend are inextricably linked to their identities, cultures, livelihoods, as well as their physical and spiritual well-being (The World Bank, 2020). The state of Alaska is located on the traditional and current land of numerous Alaska Native groups. To learn more about whose land you are residing on, visit the Native Land interactive map.

Indigenous knowledge refers to the understandings, skills and philosophies developed by societies with long histories of interaction with their natural surroundings (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization).

Individual racism refers to the beliefs, attitudes, and actions of individuals that support or perpetuate racism in conscious and unconscious ways. The U.S. cultural narrative about racism typically focuses on individual racism and fails to recognize systemic racism (National Museum of African American History & Culture).

Unfairness, typically involving the violation of a person’s rights. Injustice can occur on a systemic level where entire communities or groups are subjected to unwarranted mistreatment or disregard.

Institutional courage is an institution’s commitment to seek the truth and engage in moral action, despite unpleasantness, risk, and short-term cost. It is a pledge to protect and care for those who depend on the institution. It is a compass oriented to the common good of individuals, the institution, and the world. It is a force that transforms institutions into more accountable, equitable, healthy places for everyone (Center for Institutional Courage).

Practices, policies, procedures, values, and systems that normalize and uphold racism. These ideas are perpetuated through formal policies and procedures as well as informal attitudes and behaviors. Some examples are hair or dress codes that unfairly target BIPOC, educational content that softens America’s role in historical racial injustices, or biased hiring practices. 

Interpersonal racism occurs between individuals and includes public expressions of racism, often involving slurs, biases, hateful words or actions, or exclusion (National Museum of African American History & Culture).

The understanding that a person’s various identities intersect to form their unique experiences and worldview. Intersectionality was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe how race, class, gender and other identities intersect and overlap.

Intersex means a person is born with biological traits that are outside the strict male/female gender binary, whether it’s their anatomy, chromosomes, and/or hormones. Being intersex is not the same thing as being transgender (Planned Parenthood). (LGBTQ2IA+)

Fair and equitable. UAF strives to center equity and fairness in all university processes, practices, and procedures.

Removing and fixing supremacist structures and systems, while acknowledging the historical and social context of privilege and oppression. This transformation removes all barriers resulting in equal access to tools and opportunities for all (UAF Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence Core Values).


The breadth of information one possesses and understands. Traditionally, academic knowledge has been emphasized and regarded as more important than other forms such as cultural or practical knowledge. UAF recognizes the importance and value of all forms of knowledge and works to foster and promote its growth.

An organized structure and dynamic process (a) generating and representing content, components, classes, or types of knowledge, that is (b) domain-specific or characterized by domain-relevant features as defined by the user or consumer, (c) reinforced by a set of logical relationships that connect the content of knowledge to its value (utility), (d) enhanced by a set of iterative processes that enable the evolution, revision, adaptation, and advancement of knowledge, and (e) subject to criteria of relevance, reliability, and quality (Global System for Sustainable Development).

One who has authority, power, or influence over a group of individuals. Some examples of leadership positions are executive-level employees at UAF like the chancellor and governance organizations like Faculty Senate, Staff Council, and Associated Students of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

A woman who is romantically and/or sexually attracted to other women. This label is also sometimes used by nonbinary individuals to describe their attraction to women. (LGBTQ2IA+)

An acronym for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, two-spirit, intersex and asexual/aromantic community. The plus sign at the end indicates that the acronym is intended to be broadly inclusive of diverse sexual and gender identities. In communications at UAF, the complete acronym should be used the first time you reference this community, any subsequent references can utilize the shortened version “LGBTQ+,” although the complete acronym is preferred.

Marginalized populations are groups and communities that experience discrimination and exclusion (social, political and economic) because of unequal power relationships across economic, political, social and cultural dimensions (National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health). Alaska Natives are a marginalized group due to the current and historic discrimination they’ve experienced. Being a part of a marginalized group doesn’t preclude a person from obtaining some power or privilege, however, it often requires those individuals to overcome more barriers to do so.

Significant and sincere cooperation with the intention of accomplishing a goal.

Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership (Psychology Today).

A group of people working together to advance their shared political, social, or artistic ideas (Lexico).


An approach to learning and disability that suggests diverse neurological conditions appear as a result of normal variations in the human genome. Neurodiversity advocates promote support systems (such as inclusion-focused services, accommodations, communication and assistive technologies, occupational training, and independent living support) that allow those who are neuro-divergent to live their lives as they are, rather than being coerced or forced to adopt uncritically accepted ideas of normality or to conform to a clinical ideal (Disabled World).

People are nonbinary if their gender identity is not strictly male or female. Nonbinary isn't synonymous with transgender. (AP Stylebook) (LGBTQ2IA+)

To make something acceptable or typical. Normalization involves removing stigma and changing the status quo. At UAF we want to normalize seeing diverse people in all areas of the university. By making it a norm, we encourage potential students, staff, and faculty to see themselves as a welcomed and valuable part of the UAF community.

Conscious and unconscious attitudes and behaviors directed towards a subordinate group coupled with the power and privilege of the advantaged group and manifested at individual, cultural, and institutional levels (Portland Community College Office of Equity and Inclusion).

A person who experiences sexual and/or romantic attraction to members of all gender identities/expressions. Often shortened to “pan” and sometimes used interchangeably with “bisexual.” (LGBTQ2IA+)

Sharing life experiences with the goal of allowing your audience to understand a fraction of your lived experiences as well as your perspective/feelings on those situations. It is important to understand that these experiences and interpretations are not always generalizable and are often unique to that person.

Personal work is the task of absorbing information regarding DEIA, processing it, and letting it inform your beliefs and actions. Confronting your own biases or ways that you may be contributing to discrimination is difficult, uncomfortable, and unending but it is necessary and essential to the process of creating a culture of respect, diversity, inclusion, caring, accessibility and accountability. The result of this work is meaningful action to create a more just world.

The resources, abilities and knowledge that individuals can contribute. Personpower might be funds, connections, knowledge, skills, time, or other resources.


Refers to the practice of, or desire for, having ethical, honest, and consensual non-monogamous relationships (i.e., relationships that may include multiple partners). Often shortened to “poly.” (LGBTQ2IA+)

The capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events. Most power is possessed by and passed on to privileged individuals and is used to uphold the status quo, consequently fortifying discriminatory systems.


Prejudice is a pre-judgment or unjustifiable, and usually negative, attitude of one type of individual or group toward another group and its members. Such negative attitudes are typically based on unsupported generalizations (or stereotypes) that deny the right of individual members of certain groups to be recognized and treated as individuals with individual characteristics (G2 Diversified Services).

Unearned access to resources (social power) only readily available to some individuals as a result of one or more of their identities (Portland Community College Office of Equity and Inclusion). Privilege doesn’t mean that someone hasn’t encountered hardships, it just means that their race/sexuality/gender/etc. didn’t cause or exacerbate those hardships.

Individuals who actively listen to, advocate for and work to support marginalized groups that they’re not members of BEFORE there is an incident, request or mandate that necessitates them to do so.

The formal and informal ways that the work of the university is done. Some processes and practices are vetted, documented, and published while other processes and practices are informal, enforced inconsistently and poorly documented. Regardless of their past knowledge, individuals entering the university system are just expected to know the ins and outs without being formally taught. The inner workings of these practices are usually passed down by those who have gone through the university system.

Commodities provided for the benefit of the community. Some public services offered by UAF include the Georgeson Botanical Garden, the Cooperative Extension Service, the Large Animal Research Station, and the University of Alaska Museum of the North. UAF also provides public events, athletic entertainment, and spaces for community events.


Queer is a self-assigned label indicating that a person identifies as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit, intersex, asexual, + community (LGBTQ2IA+). The term was commonly used as a slur against LGBTQ2IA+ people but has since been reclaimed by many in the community. Examples of acceptable uses: “queer people/queer community/queer culture” Examples of unacceptable uses: “queers/the queers.” 

A social construct and political concept (not scientific) that supports dividing/separating groups of people and identifying racial groups as superior or inferior; Created to justify the creation of a racial hierarchy (G2 Diversified Services). Learn more about how the concept of race was constructed and established in America: Historical Foundations of Race, The History of White People in America.

Racial equity is the condition that would be achieved if one's racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares. When we use the term, we are thinking about racial equity as one part of racial justice, and thus we also include work to address root causes of inequities, not just their manifestation. This includes elimination of policies, practices, attitudes and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or fail to eliminate them (Portland Community College Office of Equity and Inclusion).

Ideology-based system that advantages one racial group, and oppresses Black, Brown, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC); System where racial groups have power to re/enforce systematic discrimination through institutional policy and shaping cultural values and beliefs. Racism also refers to prejudice or discrimination against individuals or groups based on beliefs about one’s own racial superiority or the belief that race reflects inherent differences in attributes and capabilities. Racism can take many forms, including explicit racial prejudice and discrimination by individuals and institutions (e.g., Jim Crow laws after the Reconstruction) as well as structural or environmental racism in policies or practices that foster discrimination and mutually reinforcing social inequalities (e.g., attendance policies that favor a majority group). Racism can also take the form of unconscious beliefs, stereotypes, and attitudes toward racial groups in the form of implicit bias (e.g., assuming limited ability when students speak non-standard English; fearful responses to verbal or physical behavior of non-white individuals. Other forms of racism are modern symbolic racism in which individuals deny the continued existence of racial inequality while contributing to discrimination and aversive racism through in-group favoritism for the dominant racial group (G2 Diversified Services).

Relationality is discussed as learning about and acknowledging the relationships that are valued and practiced by people we are working with in a variety of capacities (examples include, relationship to self, family, community, nature, spirit, culture, land, etc.). Once we know what those important relationships are...Relational Accountability is discussed as honoring those relationships in the work we do with individuals to the best of our ability. (Shawn Wilson, 2008, Research Is Ceremony, Fernwood Publishing)


Money, time, labor, knowledge, influence and other forms of support.

Respect should not only imply tolerance but acceptance. A culture of respect at UAF would include honoring and valuing the individuals in our community. Members of our community would hold one another in an unconditional positive regard and appreciate one another for being unique individuals whose different experiences and perspectives contribute to a greater whole. As a result, UAF employees and students would all feel a sense of worth and value (Chancellor’s Strategic Plan Goal #5).

Safety includes a person’s physical, emotional, mental, and environmental security and wellbeing. UAF strives to be a place where people feel comfortable and safe enough to be who they are.

Spaces that are created by and for members of groups that seek support and the opportunity to just “be” in the context of the culture, institutions, and environments that they must interact within (Portland Community College Office of Equity and Inclusion). Some examples of these spaces are The Commons, Nanook Diversity and Action Center, and The Well.

Identifying and scrutinizing your internal biases, privileges, roles in systems of power, and how you may or may not be working to confront these facts in order to become a better champion for positive social change.


Settlers are individuals who leave their location of origin and move permanently to a new area. This word is often used to refer to American colonists who colonized the Indigenous lands that would eventually become the United States. A synonym for settler is “colonizer.”

Sex is a label that’s usually first given by a doctor based upon the genes, hormones, and body parts (like genitals) a person is born with. It goes on their birth certificate and describes their body as female or male. Some people’s sex doesn’t fit into male or female, called intersex (Planned Parenthood).

A system of advantages and attitudes that serve to privilege men, subordinate women and gender non-conforming individuals, denigrate non-men-identified values and practices, enforce male dominance and control, and reinforce forms of masculinity that are dehumanizing and damaging to men. (Adams, et al 1997/Portland Community College Office of Equity and Inclusion).


Sexual orientation is a person’s physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to others.

DEIA-related terms and definitions that are defined at the university level to promote understanding and dialogue.

Techniques and methods used in direct action. Some examples are learning how to organize demonstrations/protests, start letter-writing campaigns, or engage in discourse.

The alteration of institutions, laws, policies, practices, and environments within the social structure, characterized by changes in cultural symbols, rules of behavior, social organizations, or value systems (Encyclopaedia Britannica).

Social justice includes a vision of society in which the distribution of resources is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. Social justice involves social actors who have a sense of their own agency as well as a sense of social responsibility toward and with others and the society as a whole. The goal of social justice education is full and equal participation of all groups in a society that is mutually shaped to meet their needs. Social justice includes a vision of society that is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure (Adams, et al 1997/Portland Community College Office of Equity and Inclusion).


The physical and virtual environments of the university. Space can also refer to how an individual or group interacts and exists with others in these environments (i.e. the act of “taking up space”). Those with power dictate how a space is used and by whom. Despite Indigenous Peoples’ ancestral and present stewardship of Alaska, their history and culture are underrepresented in many prominent and prestigious spaces in the state due to colonization and forced assimilation/education for extinction. Alaska Natives have had to fight to take up space in a society that has routinely devalued and intentionally excluded not only their languages, art, histories, cultures, values, names, and practices; but the people themselves (e.g. the “No Natives Allowed,” “No Dogs, No Natives” segregation signs that were common until Alaska Native civil rights leader Elizabeth Peratrovich successfully advocated for the Anti-Discrimination Law of 1945, the first in the country). It is essential for allies to be aware of their privileged claim to space and to be willing to yield that entitlement to make room for and welcome historically silenced people. People with privilege, not every subject requires your input and not every room needs your presence.

Diagnosed with or having the characteristics of an autistic spectrum disorder (Oxford Languages).


An area over which a person or entity has considerable impact and authority.

Stereotypes are non-scientific over-generalizations about a social group. Stereotypes can be positive or negative, conscious and unconscious inferences about a social group (G2 Diversified Services).

Structural racism is the overarching system of racial bias across institutions and society. These systems give privileges to white people resulting in disadvantages to people of color (National Museum of African American History & Culture).

The holistic sum of interactions a student has at and with UAF. The student experience refers to a student's engagement with learning both inside and outside of the classroom.

Achieving what one has set out to do. Success has typically been informed by Western capitalist ideals that define it in terms of wealth. Success decolonized, is rooted in the fulfillment of personal goals for the improvement of one's community.

The long-lasting policies, processes, procedures, and norms that uphold the idea that certain groups are superior to others. Higher education in America was created to support the elevation of wealthy white cisgender heterosexual non-disabled men. Women, BIPOC, and other marginalized groups were barred from enrolling in universities or encountered extreme barriers to entering academia. Preventing these groups from obtaining degrees and conducting research served to uphold white supremacy and the patriarchy. Slowly universities have been implementing measures to counteract and remove barriers to education.

The critical activities of a higher education institution are (at a minimum) ecologically sound, socially just and economically viable, and that they will continue to be so for future generations (University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Definitions of Sustainability).

A form of social, economic, or political organization or practice. Systems of oppression, which are found in almost every facet of American life, are supported by institutional power and serve to uphold the advantaged groups and further harm the disadvantaged groups. For example, the failure to fully normalize and support working mothers as well as fathers involved in their children’s lives (e.g. in the form of flexible time or child care) is a system of oppression that upholds sexist ideas of the roles of men and women.

Fundamental to a predominant social, economic, or political practice (Merriam-Webster). One glaring example is systemic racism. Racism is built into nearly every aspect of the United States and is exemplified in the school-to-prison pipeline, bias in the medical field, and pay inequities


To reform, remove or replace existing systems, processes, or ideas that perpetuate discrimination and systemic inequity.

Some people have a gender identity that doesn’t match the sex they were given at birth — for example, they were born with a vulva, vagina, and uterus, but they identify as male. These people are transgender (or trans). Trans can also include people who don’t identify with strict male/female gender roles. Other people who don’t identify as either male or female call themselves genderqueer. There are other gender identity terms and labels, but don’t use terms like “transgendered,” “transvestite,” “tranny,” or, “he-she” — they’re old-fashioned and can be hurtful. It’s always best to respect the words people use to describe themselves (Planned Parenthood). Transgender is an adjective and should not be used as a noun. For example, “trans man” is two words with “trans” serving as an adjective to describe “man.” Making this one word is considered disrespectful and inaccurate, as it implies a trans man is not really a man (Trans Journalists Association). (LGBTQ2IA+)

The social, legal, and/or medical process of aligning one’s life with one’s gender. This can (but does not always) include changing one’s name and pronouns; altering dress, speech, and mannerisms; updating documents and legal registries; and seeking medical treatment to change physical characteristics (Trans Journalists Association).

UAF strives to be open and accountable regarding our efforts to create a culture of respect, diversity, inclusion, caring, accessibility and accountability. Social justice necessitates transparency in these efforts to ensure that UAF is living up to community and institutional expectations.


Trauma is the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event or series of events (like repeated microaggressions) that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness, diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel the full range of emotions and experiences (Integrated Listening Systems). Non-neurotypical individuals may express trauma differently than others.


Informed by a basic knowledge of how traumatic experiences and traumatic stress may impact the mind, body, and spirit of the people we are serving (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute). Healing-centered care focuses on the strengths rather than the pathology of trauma and the innate wisdom of cultural and traditional practices as a mechanism for healing and wellness.

Though Two-Spirit may now be included in the umbrella of LGBTQ, The term "Two-Spirit" does not simply mean someone who is a Native American/Alaska Native and gay. 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 men and women were referred to with the same term, this status amounted to a third gender. In other cases, two-spirit women were referred to with a distinct term and, therefore, constituted a fourth gender. Most Indigenous communities have specific terms in their own languages for the gender-variant members of their communities and the social and spiritual roles these individuals fulfill; with over 500 surviving Native American cultures, attitudes about sex and gender can be very diverse. Even with the modern adoption of pan-Indian terms like Two-Spirit, not all cultures will perceive two-spirit people the same way, or welcome a pan-Indian term to replace the terms already in use by their cultures (Indian Health Service).

Represented at a rate lower than one would expect for a population. In academia, this group would include BIPOC, queer people, first-generation students and low-income students. In specific instances, other groups of students may be considered underrepresented. In a traditionally woman-dominated discipline, men may be considered underrepresented (Emory University Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion). UAF has implemented various programs to assist and support underserved and underrepresented students (e.g. Student Support Services).

Insufficiently bestowed opportunities and benefits. BIPOC, queer people, first-generation, low-income, and disabled students have been traditionally underserved and undersupported in academia. UAF has implemented various programs to assist and support underserved and underrepresented students (e.g. Student Support Services).

Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability. When universal design practices are implemented, adaptive or assistive technologies or accommodations are minimized or eliminated (National Disability Authority).

Being honest and willing to share one’s experiences. Susceptible to harm, such as discrimination. Marginalized communities are often the targets of discriminatory processes and practices and do not have the resources to overcome those barriers.

Ensuring that all individuals are holistically cared for. They are safe and healthy (physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually, vocationally, financially, and environmentally) and are comfortable expressing humanity (vulnerability, empathy, compassion, honesty, respect, and dignity) and being their authentic selves in interactions with others (UAF Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence Core Values). Each of these facets of one’s health is interconnected and if one is harmed, the other areas suffer as well. Wellness is contextual.

White supremacy is a historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations and individuals of color by white individuals and nations of the European continent; for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power and privilege (Portland Community College Office of Equity and Inclusion). White supremacy is perpetuated through overtly racist actions like using racial slurs or actively discriminating against BIPOC or in subtle ways such as microaggressions or the vestiges of redlining.