Terms & Definitions
2021 Social Climate Survey Terms and Definitions
American Indian (Native American): A person having origin in any of the original tribes of North America.
Asexual: A person who does not experience sexual attraction.
Assigned Birth Sex: Refers to the named biological sex of a child at birth.
Bullied: Unwanted offensive and malicious behavior which causes harm to the recipient or target.
Climate: The perceived environment created by people that influences feelings of safety, comfort, and respect.
Disability: A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
Discrimination: Discrimination refers to the treatment of a person based on their identity group (i.e. religion, sex, gender, race, ability, age, etc.) rather than on an individual’s merit.
Experiential Learning: Learning by doing and often involves activities that are offered outside of the classroom, such as internships, field experience, and cross-cultural experiences.
Family Leave: The Family Medical Leave Act is a labor law requiring employers with 50 or more employees to provide job-protected unpaid leave due a serious health condition, caring for a sick family member, or caring for a new child (including birth, adoption, or foster care).
Gender Identity: The manner in which a person thinks about their own identity as a man, woman, both or neither.
Genderqueer: Individuals that typically reject notions of static categories of gender and embrace a fluidity of gender identity and sexual orientation.
Gender Expression: The manner in which a person outwardly demonstrates gender through actions and behaviors.
Harassment: Harassment is unwelcomed behavior that harms another person, regardless of intent, and results in a hostile environment for the targeted person(s)/group.
Homophobia: Discrimination against those identifying or perceived as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or other than strictly heterosexual.
Intersex: A term used for individuals born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit the binary definitions for “female” or “male.”
National Origin/Ancestry discrimination: Negative or adverse (unlawful) treatment of an individual based on birthplace, ancestry, culture or linguistic (language) characteristics common to a specific ethnic group, national origin, country or region.
Nonbinary: a person identifying as neither man nor woman.
Non-Native English Speakers: People for whom English is not their first language.
People of Color: People who self-identify as other than White; anyone that identifies in one or more of the minority race groups previously defined above.
Physical Characteristics: Term that refers to one’s outward appearance (i.e., hair texture, lips, nose, statute etc.)
Position: A person’s position/status within the institution (e.g., staff, full-time faculty, part-time faculty, administrator, etc.)
Power: Unearned/preferential access to resources, influence on others, decision-makers, personal autonomy.
Prejudice: Stereotypical thinking caused by limited thinking. Can be negative or positive; both are harmful as they deny the individuality of the person and contributes to a “single story” narrative of groups of people.
Race: A social and political construct; not scientific.
Racial Identity: A socially constructed category based on generalized physical features such as skin color, hair type, shape of eyes, physique, etc.
Racial Harassment: Based upon a person’s race, acts that include intimidation, ridicule, or insults that are sufficiently severe (harsh or cruel), pervasive (inescapable or widespread) or persistent (constant or repeated) that interferes or limits one’s ability participate in or benefit from the services, activities or privileges provided by the university; also creates an intimidating, hostile and offensive working and/or learning environment.
Racism: Different from racial prejudice, hatred, or discrimination. Racism is reflected when one group who holds power carries out systematic discrimination through institutional policies (e.g., local and national) and practices within the society that shapes cultural beliefs and values that continually supports racist policies and practices.
Sexual Identity: Term that refers to the sex of the people one is sexually attracted to.
Socioeconomic Status: The status one holds in society based on one’s level of income, wealth, education, and familial background.
Transgender: An umbrella term referring to those whose gender identity or gender expression [previously defined] is different from that traditionally associated with their sex assigned at birth [previously defined].
Unwanted Sexual Contact: Unwanted sexual contact is behavior that occurs without explicit consent and includes touch, the use of an object, and the use of drugs or alcohol to incapacitate.