The Difference Between Equity and Equality

The Difference Between Equity and Equality

Why equal isn't always right

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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Professors change students' outlook on learning

Which professor you get DOES matter.

The professor makes the class.

This statement could not be more true, in my opinion. Students can take courses on the most riveting topics, but not learn or understand due to a bad professor. Luckily, most of the professors I have encountered have been engaging and have opened my mind to learning new things.

I am currently studying journalism, which is a subject I already love. However, my professor Dr. B is so incredibly passionate about the field. Every class she shares stories and anecdotes about her time as a journalist for a major Canadian newspaper, and her enthusiasm is contagious. As a student journalist, it is exciting to hear stories from someone who has had vast experience in the field. Her excitement inspires me to be just as passionate about my future career.

I am also studying political science, and I am enrolled in the African Politics course. Prior to the class, I had no knowledge of African Politics. I took the course because I wanted to learn a new subject, and I knew that Dr. Ziemke would have endless experiences to share. Because I had previously taken her for International Relations, I knew that she had worked in Africa as a volunteer on the Peace Corps, and she had a deep connection to Africa. Her passion, humor, and stories are what make a three-hour long class bearable.

Passionate professors create passionate students who are prepared and excited to improve their fields of study. These professors shape and mold students, give students encouragement and support, challenge students, and help students reach their potential. Professors have so much power to influence the future through their students.

It is important to understand how much a professor can truly affect how invested students are in a topic. When students have subpar professors, they tune out and do what they need to do in order to pass. When presented with a passionate, engaging professor, students take a deeper interest in the material. They put forth more effort because they understand the value of the topic being studied and want to tackle any issues in that field.

I truly believe that professors have the power to make or break a class.

Cover Image Credit: Google Images

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I Changed My Major, And So Can You

​One of the hardest parts of college is choosing what you want to get out of college.

One of the hardest parts of college is choosing what you want to get out of college. There’s a lot to think about when you choose where you want to go. Do you want a big or small school, in or out of state, weather, the full college experience, etc.

A decision that is left to be made once you’ve already committed to a school is what you’re going to do after graduation. Your major often reflects this decision. Some know exactly what they want to do and others take a little more time to figure it out.

(AKA me)

I did running start in high school and graduated with my associate’s. Then I came to WSU to pursue a degree in public relations. I was sure working in PR for a non-profit was what I wanted to do but turns out, it’s not.

I am now pursuing a double major in Speech and Hearing Sciences and I plan to be a speech therapist after school. My plans changed quite a bit in the two years I was at WSU.

For anyone else who’s still thinking about what you want your major to be or maybe changing your major, here’s some advice from my experience with trying to figure out my life all at once.

1. Cut yourself some slack

It’s okay to change your mind or not know what you want to do yet. Don’t let people fool you, most of us don’t have it all figured out.

2. Talk to people in the careers you’re interested in

Going out and talking to people in the field you’re interested in is more helpful than talking to an advisor or your professor. When I was thinking about speech therapy, the advisors at WSU didn't know much about it and I learned more from talking to real speech therapists.

3. Take the baby steps

It’s overwhelming if you need to change your major or you start thinking too far into the future. It’s important to slow down and think about what needs to be done now and worrying about the rest when it’s time. When I decided to double major I started thinking about how I would need to apply for more loans, get an apartment, take the GRE but the only thing I needed to do at the time was email my advisor. I could figure out the rest later.

4. What’s important to you?

I’ve always wanted to work with kids and have a job that helps people. It’s also important for me to have a job that is flexible for when I have a family. After talking to family friends and looking into speech therapy, it sounded like the perfect career to me. I could work in the school district and have the same breaks as my future kids.

5. Will you be able to find a job?

Most people go to college to get a job. This is something to consider when choosing a major because some career fields are more competitive than others. If I'm going to pay for graduate school, I want to be able to find a job right away. Speech pathology is a growing field and I shouldn't have a problem finding a job.

Cover Image Credit: StockSnap

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