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DEIA Resources


The definitions included in this guide are living entities. They reflect the basis upon which this guide is built, but may adapt and change as our human understanding does. For information on our practical stance, and the policies by which we stand, please see the Tredway Library's Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility statement.

In the words of our colleagues at Simmons University in their Anti-Oppression Guide:

Diversity & Inclusion is a very frequently heard phrase. Though they go hand in hand, diversity & inclusion is not the same as anti-oppression. Diversity & Inclusion have to do with the acknowledgment, valuing, celebration, and empowerment of difference, whereas Anti-Oppression challenges the systems and systemic biases that devalue and marginalize difference. Diversity & Inclusion and Anti-Oppression are all necessary in order to work toward Equity and Justice.

Note: Definitions for diversity are...well...diverse. Context and environment play a big part in what we mean when we say "diversity," and as social justice movements have gained media spotlight, the term has unfortunately become somewhat hollowed out from being overused and under-defined from situation to situation. The definitions above do not capture the many, many cultural and political nuances embedded in these terms, rather they are intended to provide a broad scaffolding for understanding and engaging with the dialogues in and outside Simmons and on which more specific iterations of these concepts as they apply to particular communities can be structured.

Defining DEIA


When we center diversity in DEIA initiatives, we embrace the ways people are both alike and different. There is no one definition of diversity that can encompass all of the visible and invisible differences and similarities shared across human experience, which include but are not limited to race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, sexuality and romantic identity, age, socioeconomic status, physical abilities and attributes, neurodivergence or neurological condition, religious beliefs or ethical values, national origin, and citizenship status. When we recognize and value diversity, we also recognize and value the unique characteristics of every individual (adapted from American Library Association and Simmons University).


Where diversity recognizes and values difference, equity works to adapt to differences to promote justice and fairness. Often misunderstood as equality, which gives the same treatment regardless of individual diversity and difference, equity assumes difference and takes diversity into account to ensure fair and just outcomes. Equity involves recognizing and working to dismantle the historic and existing disadvantages, power disparities, and barriers that different individuals and communities face in accessing resources and opportunities (adapted from American Library Association, Simmons University, and Ferris State University).


Inclusion works alongside diversity and equity by ensuring involvement and empowerment of all community members and by creating environments where all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully; are valued for their skills, experiences, and perspectives; have equitable access to resources and opportunities; and contribute to communal enrichment and success. Inclusion requires the recognition and valuing of the inherent worth and dignity of all individuals and groups in order to promote belonging and respect for all (adapted from American Library Association and Simmons University).


Accessibility is fundamental to undertaking DEI initiatives by working to connect people with resources, opportunities, and services equitably so that everyone, regardless of their individual identities and lived experiences, can access, use, and benefit from them. Often, accessibility refers to the physical or neurological needs of an individual or group in terms of physical, mobility, visual, auditory, intellectual, developmental, cognitive, health, and other disabilities; however, truly equitable accessibility measures must also take other differences and diversities into account as well. Accessibility expands and promotes inclusion by providing support, tools, or adaptations that will allow everyone to participate, be involved, and find belonging and respect (adapted from Simmons University).

Social Justice

Social justice acts on the tenets of diversity, equity, and inclusion to establish systematic, equitable fair treatment of all individuals regardless of their identities, experiences, and social positions. Acts of social justice seek to renegotiate power dynamics and eradicate oppression through addressing prejudice in individual and collective actions, attitudes, practices, and policies to instead foster belonging and equitable access to opportunities, resources, and empowerment for all. In other words, social justice is an ongoing effort to ensure every person feels safe, respected, and supported (adapted from Simmons University and Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice, as quoted by the American Library Association).

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