Owens definition of diversity refers to the fact that society, both locally and nationally is comprised of many individuals, each having unique attributes based on a variety of social, physical, and cultural characteristics. Included within, but not limited to these attributes are age, class/economic status, disAbilities, ethnicity, gender, marital status, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation and veteran status.
Multiculturalism is a philosophy that recognizes, accepts and integrates the contributions and achievements of all people into the social and economic fabric of the community in which they exist. Multiculturalism requires individuals to understand and respect historical bases of belief systems and traditions of various groups to develop members socially, spiritually, intellectually, and physically.
Equal Opportunity (EO) and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)
Equal Opportunity means that each individual is judged on his or her own individual merit and Equal Employment Opportunity means that each individual is given an equal opportunity for employment. Individual merit and achievements are determined independently and without bias toward the traits that resemble those of the person making the judgment. Equal opportunity requires that unrelated characteristics and criteria not be used to restrict opportunities.
Affirmative Action is a tool used to facilitate equal opportunity. Affirmative Action requires taking affirmative steps to ensure the effects of past discrimination are eliminated, to eliminate present discrimination and to prevent future discrimination. Affirmative Action is not a quota system. Only judges may impose quotas. Affirmative Action simply encourages the development of ways to seek out and promote well-qualified candidates from an under utilized applicant pool.
Discrimination means unequal treatment of people based on some characteristic other than individual merit and achievement. The historic fact that women, minorities and others have been excluded from full participation in society ahs deprived these individuals of their rights and systematically suppressed their talents. Affirmative Action seeks to address these historic facts by expanding the range of talent available in our society and by increasing the diversity of the people and the inequities resulting from past and present discriminatory practices as a means of facilitating the attainment of equal opportunity for everyone. Embracing and moving beyond affirmative action to affirming the diversity among us as a people can achieve the vision of a college community that recognizes, values and effectively manages differences.