DEI Working Definitions


Diversity, equity and inclusion – collectively known as DEI – must be foundational for all Michigan State University (MSU) does. DEI must be central to the University’s mission and we need to begin by recognizing that MSU occupies the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary Lands of the Anishinaabeg – the Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi peoples. The University resides on Land ceded in the 1819 Treaty of Saginaw. We believe that a culture embracing DEI is instrumental to all that Michigan State University aspires to be and hopes to accomplish. We believe a culture that embraces DEI is essential to Michigan State University and is deeply woven into its land-grant mission and vision, while recognizing the inequitable history of the Morrill Act and the disproportionate impacts of public education in the US. To properly move MSU towards the aspirational aims of DEI, we must recognize the significant struggles and accomplishments over the years by those working to make MSU a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive institution. At the same time, we must be realistic and acknowledge the ways that the University has not fully attained its aspirational goals of being diverse, equitable, and inclusive. These definitions are intended to serve as a mechanism to ensure that MSU upholds diversity, equity, and inclusion at all institutional levels. These definitions, and the asctions they engender, position MSU within a larger movement towards social justice.

DIVERSITY represents our varied collective and individual identities and differences. We recognize that diversity is a central component of inclusive excellence in research, teaching, service, and outreach and engagement. We are committed to engage, understand, promote, and foster a variety of perspectives. We affirm our similarities and value our differences. We uphold that to truly be excellent, a university must support diversity.

EQUITY goes beyond fair treatment, opportunity, and access to information and resources for all, although these are crucial to the success the university. Rather, equity can only be achieved in an environment built on respect and dignity in an environment that acknowledges historic and contemporary injustices. We are committed to intentionally and actively redressing barriers, challenging discrimination and bias, and institutionalizing access and resources that address historical and contemporary social inequalities.

INCLUSION actively invites all to contribute and participate. In the face of exclusive differential power, we strive to create balance.  Every person’s voice is valuable, and no one person is expected to represent an entire community. We are committed to an open environment and campus where students, alumni, staff, faculty, and community voices are equally respected and contribute to the overall institutional mission.

By understanding the intersectional nature of diversity, equity, and inclusion, we will utilize these definitions to actively transform Michigan State University into the institution we aspire it to be.

Please note that these are working definitions and will continue to be revised as we obtain feedback from the campus community. All members of the campus community are encouraged to provide input. You can do this by clicking here.