The Difference Between Equity and Equality

The Difference Between Equity and Equality

Why equal isn't always right
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I spent most of my life believing that equality was everything. As long as I treated every person the same way, nobody could be unhappy with the results and it was all okay. Flash forward to my sophomore year of college when I became a Resident Assistant. We have extensive training covering a variety of topics, but one that stayed with me was the difference between equity and equality. So, let me explain it to you.

Equality is defined as "The quality or state of being equal; the quality or state of having the same rights, social status, etc." That sounds pretty good, right? And equality is good! There is absolutely nothing wrong with promoting equality, or in other words, fairness. But when you place equality next to equity, that's when the lines become a bit blurred.

Equity is defined as "fairness or justice in the way people are treated." You might be thinking "Oh, they're pretty much the same thing," but in actuality, they are very different concepts that cannot be accurately explained by a simple definition.

When we talk about equality, we pretty much mean that everyone gets the same thing. For example: in a classroom of first graders, if Jimmy gets thirty minutes of recess, every other child gets thirty minutes of recess (barring any disciplinary action restricting recess time). Okay, that's equal and fair. Now imagine a classroom of students with a writing test prompt in front of them. The instructions are printed on the first page of the exam, but while the majority of the class reads them, one student has a pair of headphones to listen to the instruction. This upsets one of the students, claiming it is unfair that the other student gets to listen while he has to read.

Is that scenario really unfair? That's where the difference between equality and equity comes into play. While equality is treating everyone the same way, equity is giving each person what they need to be successful. At first glance, this seems like it may be unfair, but in reality, it's moving everyone towards the same level of success. Not every person starts from the same place, nor do they have the same needs. This is most apparent in education, where different learning types (visual, auditory, tactile, etc.) are demonstrated.

In the previous example then, was it unfair that the one student got to listen to instructions while the others read them? It isn't a matter of whether the other children WANT to listen to the instructions, but whether they NEED to in order to successfully complete the exam. By allowing the auditory learner to listen to the instructions, you are giving him the same opportunity to succeed as the students who are visual learners. He isn't getting some advantage that is withheld from the others.

Another example is providing extra services in school to the students who need them, such as after-school programs, and tutoring. For example: Maddie does exceedingly well in math, while Susie struggles. Susie begins attending tutoring sessions, and after a few weeks, her math scores improve. Since Maddie does not need the extra help, Susie really isn't getting anything that Maddie doesn't already have, so it's fair. All that happened here is that the playing field of success was improved by allowing Susie to receive the extra help she needed to learn the same material as Maddie.

In case my explanation was confusing, here's a picture denoting a PERFECT example of equality versus equity:

Equality does not "level the playing field," it simply gives everyone the same thing. Equity, however, recognizes that some people have less privilege than others and therefore need a little bit more help to reach the same place. Instead of making everything equal, let's make it equitable.

Cover Image Credit: Everyday-Democracy

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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10 Things Economics Majors Want You To Know

For the MOST part, it isn't that bad.

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I decided to become an economics major the day I started college — I know, it wasn't easy for me to decide. Well, technically the real reason why I even chose the major to begin with was that I was undecided when applying for colleges. I was, and still am, an indecisive person.

When I saw economics as one of the majors at Stony Brook, I thought it was something I was interested in. After all, it was the "study of markets and the behaviors of people in that same market." Besides psychology and philosophy (the two majors my parents didn't want me to study), I then chose econ. While it wasn't a piece of cake, it wasn't too challenging either. Here are a couple things we all want so desperately to say.

1. It's not all math, don't worry

While so many people tend to think that economics is all math and no fun, I beg to differ. As I mentioned above, it is the "study of the behavior of people in the market," so while it is equations and statistics, it is also observing how people treat prices and products.

2. It's not difficult to understand

I don't understand why parents think that if you're majoring in econ, you're pretty much signing up to fail all your courses. If they actually took the course, they would understand that it isn't the economic theory you need to understand, but how people react to changes in the stock market.

3. Majoring in econ isn't the same thing as majoring in business

When I tell people I'm an econ major, they immediately say, "Oh, business?" And then I squeeze the urge to yell in their face that I said "ECON, ECON, NOT BUSINESS." Then they continue to say they know someone that majors in business, and then ask if I know the person. The annoyances then continue. Econ is the study of markets. Business is the study of being an entrepreneur. Totally two different things. Yes, they are co-dependent, but they are not the SAME thing.

4. Please don't rely on me to do your taxes or calculate tips at a restaurant

I hate it when everyone just stares at me when the check comes. I regret telling people I'm an econ major at that point. Because I don't know how to tell them I don't learn how to do taxes or calculate tips in class, that's what finance majors do. AGAIN, not the same thing.

5. I know most of us are Asian, but don't be racist

Don't come up to me, ask me what my major is, and automatically assume that I'm an international student. It really sucks. I have to then correct them and say I'm not, and then have them walk away.

6. One of the prime motives is because we want to learn game theory

How we play games is vital to econ majors, and it does involve heavy readings of game theory books.

7. We mostly won't do econ during grad school

Because grad school is a time where we want to actually exercise our skills, it isn't a time to dawdle and major in the same things as we did in undergrad. We're actually adults by then, and we most likely will resort to marketing, sales, or advertising agencies. At least I want to work at Instagram HQ someday.

8. Our classes never have curves

Finals season is always tough on us because it just means we gotta put in three times as much work to memorize formulas, theories, and math terms. Have mercy on our souls. Most professors aren't even nice enough to bring up our grades or give us extra credit.

9. The TAs are too busy with work to help us

Even they understand econ isn't a breeze, and as TAs, they can't really explain stuff to us that they don't understand either. In fact, most of the stuff we learn in class are self-taught, usually late nights with Starbucks coffee.

10.  We actually hate business majors

Because they have it easy. And they don't need math. Everything they do is easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Not gonna lie, I love being an econ major. But some cons can be too much and it does teach me not to do econ in grad. One thing is for certain though, I love what I do and I don't regret choosing it.

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