Equity Action Plan


In support of the university’s strategic plan and commitment to inclusiveness, we seek to create a culture of humility in the Division of Student Affairs that strengthens the recruitment and retention of students and staff from marginalized and underrepresented groups, proactively educates and empowers our employees on antiracism, social justice, equity, and inclusion, and fosters an inclusive campus environment where all students feel like they belong and soar.

-Guiding Principles

We will use the following principles to guide our commitment to equity, inclusion, and social justice:

  1. Intersectionality grounds our understanding of identity, power, and oppression.
  2. Humility in thought and action promotes open communication, leaves space for different and new ways of knowing, and inspires creativity and innovation.
  3. Collaboration across the division and university embeds this work into the fabric of our Eagle community and helps ensure the investment in and sustainability of social justice and inclusion.
  4. Transparency throughout this process is key for building trust and holding ourselves accountable.


Engaging in antiracism means actively making a choice to be antiracist. This requires understanding and addressing our own racial biases, both toward ourselves and others. It also requires a mental shift away from asking “What’s wrong with people?” and, instead, asking “What’s wrong with policies? What’s wrong with systems and structures?”

Definition cited and developed from: Kendi, I. X. (2019). How to be an antiracist. New York, NY: Random House.

Having a variety of social identities represented in a space, community, institution, or society. Examples of these identities may include, but are not limited to, race, sexual orientation, gender, class, religion, ethnicity, ability, age, and others.

When attempting to describe a person or group of people who hold underrepresented or marginalized identities (e.g., African American/Black folks), we avoid phrases like “this candidate is a diverse recruit” and “we need to reach out to our multicultural students.” The lack of specificity dilutes our equity efforts. Instead, where appropriate, we should be direct (e.g., “we need to be more inclusive of perspectives from our students of color”). 

Definition cited and developed from: Adams, M., & Bell, L. A. (Eds.). (2016). Teaching for diversity and social justice (3rd ed., p. 1). New York, NY: Routledge. Kornhaber, S. (2016). A person can’t be “diverse.” The Atlantic. (link)

Involves treating people the same based on the assumption that everyone benefits from the same support to meet their needs. Equality is important but does not work if the people being served require different things to meet their needs.

Definition cited and developed from: Equality, Equity, and Social Justice. University of Florida’s Counseling and Wellness Center. (link)

Fairness and impartiality, particularly within an organization or system. “Equity” is often conflated with the term “equality,” meaning sameness. In fact, true equity implies that an individual may need to experience or receive something different (not equal) to maintain fairness and access.

Definition cited and developed from: Morton, B., & Fasching-Varner, K. (2014). Equity. In S. Thompson (Ed.). Encyclopedia of diversity and social justice. (Vol. 1, pp. 303-304). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

The act of recognizing that we are dependent on one another when working toward a common goal or task—that others may know more information or possess skills and experiences that we do not. Listening to and involving the wisdom and truths of others will contribute to our shared success. 

Definition cited and developed from:Schein, E. H. (2013). Humble inquiry. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler. 

The concept that an organization or system is actively accepting of new populations and/or identities. This new presence is not merely tolerated, but empowered to contribute meaningfully into the system in a positive, mutually beneficial way.

Definition cited and developed from:Carter-Hicks, J. (2015). Inclusive education. In S. Thompson (Ed.), Encyclopedia of diversity and social justice. (Vol. 1, pp. 412-413). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

The theory—conceptualized in the 1980s by Black feminist legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw—that markers of identity do not act independently of one another but exist simultaneously, creating a complex web of privilege and oppression and “negating the possibility of a unitary or universal experience of any one manifestation of oppression” (e.g., a gay Latino man experiences male privilege AND homophobia differently than a gay white man). In other words, the different identities we hold impact how we experience the systems and structures of power around us. 

Examining the experiences of people who live at the intersections of two (or more) marginalized identities becomes a useful way to identify inequities within those systems.

Definition cited and developed from: Adams, M., & Bell, L. A. (Eds.). (2016). Teaching for diversity and social justice (3rd ed., p. 42). New York: Routledge.Crenshaw, K. (1991). Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stanford Law Review, 43(6), 1241-1299.

Refers to groups and communities that experience discrimination and exclusion (social, political, and/or economic) because of unequal power relationships across economic, political, social, and cultural dimensions. This term should be used in place of “minority” and “at-risk.” 

Definition cited and developed from: Marginalized populations. (n.d.) National Collaborating Centre for the Determinants of Health. Retrieved from: https://nccdh.ca/glossary/entry/marginalized-populations 

An analysis of how power, privilege, and oppression impact our experience of our social identities. “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 in which the distribution of resources is equitable” and all members of a space, community, or institution, or society are “physically and psychologically safe and secure.”

Definition cited and developed from:Adams, M., & Bell, L. A. (Eds.). (2016). Teaching for diversity and social justice (3rd ed., p. 1). New York, NY: Routledge.

Underrepresentation is not a permanent fixture of a group’s identity, so inclusive and anti-racist language must respect that groups have a much larger existence than their participation rates in a particular field or activity. In other words, humans are not “underrepresented” or “minorities” simply by existing—there needs to be additional context about where and how they are underrepresented.

Thus, we avoid using “underrepresented minority” (or “minority” at all) and, instead, are intentional and specific in identifying groups’ identities in relation to our equity efforts. For example, instead of referring to students of color as “minorities” or even “multicultural students,” we simply say “students of color.” If we need to refer to a group’s underrepresentation in a field or activity, we use more specific language like “X is underrepresented in STEM.”

Definition cited and developed from: Williams, T. L. (2020). “Underrepresented minority” considered harmful, racist language. Communications of the ACM. (link)


Strategic plan actions addressed:

  • “Expand opportunities and address unmet needs for underrepresented populations.” (ISP – We Embrace Equity and Social Justice)
  • “The Office for Diversity and Inclusion will provide resources and programming to our diverse student body through the Multicultural Center, the Pride Center and the Office for Diversity and Inclusion.” (DSP – Goal 3)

Key activities:

  • By December 2021, assess racial and other possible biases in student conduct cases and outcomes, report key findings, and implement an action plan to address issues discovered.
  • By June 2022, require that job applicants to Student Affairs positions demonstrate at least two of the ACPA/NASPA social justice and inclusion competencies in their application materials.
  • By August 2022, reimagine the purpose and function of the Multicultural Center and Pride Center to better support the retention of marginalized and underrepresented students.
  • By August 2022, develop and launch an education program for Student Affairs supervisors to ensure social justice and inclusion supervisory competencies, particularly as it relates to supervising staff members who are people of color, people with disabilities, and/or LGBTQ+.
  • By March 2023, transition the Eagle F.A.M. pre-orientation program into a first-year retention program that includes additional financial and staff support from the institution.
  • By June 2023, develop and launch an initiative for providing career support and mentorship opportunities for all Student Affairs staff, with particular attention to the development and promotion of staff who hold marginalized identities. This may include establishing identity-based affinity group(s), developing a formal mentorship program, and/or providing professional development support.

Strategic plan actions addressed:

  • “Develop strategies for diversifying the university faculty and staff.” (ISP – We Embrace Equity and Social Justice)
  • “Provide training for academic leadership, faculty and staff on understanding diversity and creating an inclusive campus climate.” (DSP – Goal 2)

Key activities: 

  • By June 2022, develop and launch new professional development workshops for Student Affairs employees related to cultural humility and anti-racist practices.
  • By June 2022, implement an onboarding program for all newly hired Student Affairs staff, regardless of classification, that emphasizes EWU’s values and educates about implicit bias, inclusive communication, and the university’s connection with Indigenous nations in the Inland Northwest.
  • By June 2023, determine and communicate how Student Affairs staff evaluations in each unit will be tied to taking advantage of opportunities to attend campus, local, state, or national conferences and workshop sessions that address equity issues.
  • By June 2023, incorporate social justice and inclusion competency goals into performance evaluations for each Student Affairs staff member. 

Strategic plan actions addressed:

  • “Promote strategies that encourage honest dialogue and foster a campus-wide ethic of inclusivity and a welcoming climate.” (ISP – We Embrace Equity and Social Justice)
  • “Increase overall diversity programming to strengthen and unify the campus community.” (DSP – Goal 3)

Key activities:

  • By February 2022, embed EWU’s Land Acknowledgement into divisional communications and presentations. 
  • By February 2022, embed pronoun introductions into divisional communications and presentations. 
  • By June 2022, all Student Affairs units will engage in an equity-driven, evidence-based improvement effort to identify and address equity issues in their work.
  • By June 2022, require all video recorded content from Student Affairs to have embedded text captions and/or be accompanied by written transcripts.
  • By June 2022, create a plan for reimagining Education Abroad and increasing student participation.
  • By June 2022, expand opportunities for students to publish about their research or passion projects in the student-led newspaper publication, The Easterner.
  • By June 2023, create a work group and provide recommendations to the university regarding inclusive practices and appropriate data management and reporting strategies for transgender and nonbinary students.
  • By June 2023, develop a protocol and style guide for continuous review and development of Student Affairs materials, events, and programs to ensure marginalized backgrounds, identities, and experiences are reflected with respect and authenticity.

-What Has Already Been Accomplished?

Student Affairs has actively contributed to the university’s strategic plan. With a new university strategic plan on the horizon, Student Affairs 2022-2023 Equity Action Plan Update has been completed. We will be sunsetting the Student Affairs Equity Action plan at the end of the 2023-2024 academic year and provide a final report. Notable accomplishments since 2018 include: 

  • Created and launched gender inclusive housing in the residence halls. (Fall 2018)
  • Created and launched an annual First Year Experience course related to social justice. (Fall 2019)
  • Worked with MarCom on the inclusion of a gender pronouns field on the template for university business cards and email signatures. (Fall 2019)
  • Revamped the Welcoming Project LGBTQ+ advocate training to include three levels with scaled content delivered in a hybrid format. (Fall 2020)
  • Worked with IT to enable the visibility of gender pronouns on Canvas. (Fall 2020)
  • Audit of bias in student conduct cases from Fall 2013 to Spring 2020. (Winter 2021)
  • Created and launched the UndocuAlly workshop to educate faculty and staff about the experiences of undocumented college students. (Winter 2021)
  • Organizational realignments to create the unit for Student Equity, Belonging, and Voice. (Winter 2021)
  • Led the development and implementation of the bias response reporting form and response process. (Winter 2021)
  • Increased the number of New Student Transitions and Family Programs web pages and parent/family sessions offered in Spanish. (ongoing)