Important Ideas and Next Steps: Belonging

people talking

A toolkit series to guide UMass community members in understanding, interpreting, reflecting on, and responding to findings of the 2021 Campus Climate Survey

Important Ideas: Belonging

As social creatures, all people have an innate desire to feel a sense of belonging. When it comes to our relationships with other individuals, groups, and the wider community, human brains thrive on connection, acceptance, and support. The 2021 Campus Climate Survey focused on examining institution-wide efforts to create an increasingly inclusive environment for everyone. In a large, diverse community like UMass, belonging is best understood as an outcome that can be achieved through collective work toward a common goal. Simply put, a sense of belonging is what happens when 
the work of inclusion is done thoughtfully and consistently.

Important Ideas: Inclusion

Belonging is NOT the same as “fitting in”! It’s important to distinguish between assimilation and true inclusion.

Assimilation expects those who are outside the norm to adjust themselves to the existing dominant culture. Minoritized individuals and groups may feel pressure to conform, hide parts of their identity and experience, or pretend to be something they are not to gain acceptance and support. On the other hand, inclusion asks…

  • Whose voices are often left out? What unique gifts might they offer?
  • How must our culture shift or expand so that every community member feels invited and safe to show up as their whole, authentic self?
  • Which actions will we take to move our community closer to this goal?

Opportunities for Continued Learning and Engagement




Take Action: Reporting Options

It can often be challenging to discern between an incident of mistreatment, an expression of outright bias, or a hurtful misunderstanding. What will always be clear, however, is how the situation makes us feel – and its very real impact on whether or not we feel accepted, supported, and valued. One way to take action when you experience or observe this type of occurrence is to submit a bias incident report. Reports not only allow UMass to offer resources and support to those directly involved, but also help to identify community-wide patterns and growth areas.

Report an incident of bias or discrimination

Additional Reporting Options