Common Language Glossary

An individual’s language is continually developed as a result of lived experiences and education. We acquire this language from our families, our friends, in school, and within our unique cultural contexts. Our college community strives to create an environment in which each of us is responsible for the words we use and to develop a vocabulary that is free of harmful terminology.

In its place, we seek to add inclusive, growth-oriented terms to our vocabulary, so our words become powerful tools to support and uplift those around us.

In order to productively engage with equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) issues, it is essential to have a shared understanding of important terms.

This glossary includes intentional, thoughtfully researched terminology to help minimize misunderstanding and misrepresentation. As language is ever-changing, this glossary is not exhaustive and will be regularly updated as terminology and definitions shift and expand.

The goals of this glossary are:

  • Develop an institutional common language baseline for our community to build upon.
  • Encourage each community member to be responsible for language usage, focusing on an accurate understanding of key terminology.
  • Encourage each community member to consider the intent AND impact of their words.
  • Use this common language throughout all college processes, messaging, and documents.

This glossary was developed in conjunction with Board Policy BP1025 and the State Board for Community & Technical Colleges (SBCTC).


Communities of color

An umbrella term used to refer to people of color often when describing the impacts of systemic racism. 

Community organizations

Coordination and organizing aimed at making improvements to a community, area, or groups social health, well-being, and overall functioning. This takes place in in geographically, socially, culturally, spiritually, and digitally defined communities and spaces.

Culturally appropriate

The understanding of what is suitable given a particular context. Including awareness of norms, symbols, values, etc.

Culturally competent

The continued development to effectively communicate and knowledgeably engage with people across cultures concerning but not limited to social identities. This can include race, gender, veteran status, sexual orientation, nation of origin, age, ability, socio-economic status, and faith, among others.


Individual, group, and social differences in cultures, expectations, backgrounds, opinions, and values, all of which enrich our shared community.


Full and fair access to resources, opportunities, and services.

Historically marginalized communities

“Groups who have been relegated to the lower or peripheral edge of society. Many groups were denied full participation in mainstream cultural, social, political, and economic activities” (Heritage Bulletin, 2018). E. g., People of Color, women, people with disabilities.


The creation and maintenance of an accepting environment where all have equitable opportunities and support.

Low-income communities

An area in which 20 percent of people live below the poverty line or families whose incomes do not exceed 80 percent of the median family income for the area.

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