Inclusive Language Series: What is Inclusion?

What is Inclusion?

You may have heard the phrase, “we have a commitment to diversity and inclusion” before and thought, “hm, I know what diversity is, but what is inclusion, and how do you achieve it?” In this context, inclusion refers to making everyone feel valued, respected, supported, and welcomed regardless of their identities.

Why is it Important?

Picture this: you enter a room and there is a group of people sitting comfortably together, all talking and laughing with each other. They look up at you and stare as you enter the room but make no effort to greet you. You may feel self-conscious, uncomfortable, and left out because everyone else in the room looks like they are having good conversations, while you are sitting alone in silence. You wonder to yourself: why isn’t anyone inviting me to talk? You may become hyper-aware of your surroundings and wonder if it has anything to do with how you look. You don’t feel welcome in the room, and you may desperately want to go somewhere else, a place where you feel welcome. You want to feel included.

There is a belief that people are their best selves when they are their authentic selves – that is, people are happiest, most productive, and feel that they have found a purpose and meaning within their communities when they are able to express themselves in the way that they feel is most representative to who they are. When people feel empowered by those around them, their feelings of self-worth and self-image are more positive. On an individual level, inclusion encourages others to feel valued for their unique experiences and qualities. On a larger scale, inclusion helps foster engagement and builds community where people are encouraged to be authentic, real, and to contribute their own experiences to enrich the conditions of the community itself.

How Can I Find Community?

There are many places here on our campus that are committed to diversity and inclusion and attempt to create spaces that are inclusive and welcoming. Look for organizations and places that directly say that they are committed to creating inclusive spaces. Explore your options and find community within spaces that feel safe for you and your identities.

It’s also important to remember that anyone can contribute to an inclusive community. Being committed to encouraging others (and yourself!) to live authentically, welcoming others into spaces that you are in, and seeing value in lived experiences and others’ identities can all contribute to inclusive spaces. Even individuals can make people feel welcome and included, which is a familiar feeling that we have all wanted at some point in our lives.

Reflection Questions

  • Think about an experience where you felt included. How did that make you feel?
  • What are things you can do to make others feel included in your residential community?

Find a Community on Campus

Multicultural Student Center – Student Affairs – UW–Madison (

Identity Centers – Multicultural Student Center – UW–Madison (

Get Involved – Student Affairs – UW–Madison (

Upcoming Holidays & Observances

  • Arab American Heritage Month
  • Genocide Awareness Month
  • Autism Acceptance Month
  • Deaf History Month
  • Sexual Assault Awareness Month
  • April 1: Easter Monday (Christian) — the day after Easter Sunday, a Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  • April 2: World Autism Awareness Day — created to raise awareness around the globe.
  • April 5: Laylat al-Qadr (Muslim) — the holiest night of the year for Muslims, is traditionally celebrated on the twenty-seventh day of Ramadan. It is known as the Night of Power and commemorates the night the Quran was first revealed to the prophet Muhammad.
  • April 6: Lailat AL-Qadr (Islamic) — Commemorates the night that the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It is known as the “Night of Power.” Often set on the 27th day of Ramadan, Sunnis may observe it on the 21st, 23rd, 25th or 29th and Shīʿite (Shiite) observe it on the 19th, 21st or 23rd day of Ramadan