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Equity and equality: My experience with these terms

by Guest Writer

This post is part of our #LetsTalkEquity series focused on encouraging conversations about equity and inclusion. Join the conversation online through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by following Ontario Tech Student Life.

"[Equity] is about each of us getting what we need to survive or succeed—access to opportunity, networks, resources, and supports—based on where we are and where we want to go.” - Stanford Social Innovation Review (2016)

I support an inclusive campus community

When you hear the word 'equity', you may mistake it for being the same as equality. In essence, they do share similar qualities in that they both promote the goal of having marginalized groups experience opportunities that are enjoyed by the privileged. But while equality ensures that everyone has the same opportunities presented to them, it does not address differences in circumstance.

The missing link between the have and the have nots is access, and it is vulnerable populations who lack the resources to obtain said access. Thus, their marginalization is perpetuated.

For instance, my identity in being a racialized woman has led me to navigate the world in a particular way, given the oppressive systems I encounter as a result of my social location.

While I have the opportunity to obtain an education and engage in activities that will prepare me for my career aspirations, my social identity could potentially block important information that could contribute to my professional and academic development. Many of my classmates understand how to apply for financial aid or have contacts who can help them find employment after university, but I do not have the same access to that information given my identity as a first-generation student who is also racialized. Therefore, I do not have the same access to knowledge that some of my peers have, despite having the opportunity to receive a post-secondary education.

This is where equity comes into play.

Equity serves as a bridge between marginalization and opportunity by providing access to opportunity to those who are in need. Specialized seminars that are geared toward immigrant families to outline post-secondary education, or workshops for first-generation students that instruct them on how to apply to graduate school, are examples of equitable practices that ensure marginalized groups are receiving the adequate support they need.

Implementing more equitable practices, such as these, into our institutions, can ensure that historically disadvantaged groups are able to receive the necessary resources required to achieve goals that they may have deemed as unattainable in the past.