- California State University Fullerton listed dozens of words as “inappropriate” because they’re too gendered, including “secretary,” “workmanship,” and “man-made”
- The list is part of an Inclusive Language Program, which several other universities have also adopted
- CSU-Fullerton asked students to suggest what words and phrases “you want people to eliminate”
- Princeton recently backpedaled after putting out a similarly restrictive “inclusive language” guide
“Secretary” is an exclusive word that’s inappropriate to use, California State University Fullerton told students on a handout about gender-inclusive language. Instead, use “administrative assistant,” the guide said.
Also off-limits: “Mankind,” “man the desk/phones/tables,” “hey guys,” “man-made,” “workmanship,” “hey, dudes!” and “the common man.” And don’t even think about using “man” or calling someone “Mrs. or Miss,” or more than a dozen other words and phrases.
As part of its Inclusive Language Program, CSU Fullerton also invited students to let the University know what words or phrases “you want people to eliminate.”
A spokesman — ahem, sorry, spokesperson — for CSU Fullerton said participation in the Inclusive Language program is voluntary, emphasizing the University’s commitment to free speech.
“The views of the presenter in no way demonstrate a mandatory personnel policy or a student conduct policy of Cal State Fullerton, and any person at our campus is free to disagree with those views,” said Jeffrey D. Cook., the University’s chief communications officer. “Cal State Fullerton does not police language on our campus and fully supports the rights of free speech and expression.”
Such so-called “inclusive language” programs have become popular on college campuses.
For instance, CSU Fullerton’s sister school in Northridge hosted a campaign last semester to educate about “potentially hurtful phrases.” Students were invited to play in a ball pit and prompted on tape to explain why certain words were too offensive for use. The University of Northern Colorado, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and others have hosted similar initiatives.
But the programs have also become increasingly controversial. Amid nationwide public backlash, Princeton University revised an HR language guide that originally listed 30 supposedly offensive and gendered words and phrases.
Many of the same off-limits words that sparked controversy at Princeton appear on CSU Fullerton’s list. And the university asked students to submit suggestions for other terminology that offends them.
The CSU Fullerton Inclusive Language program also featured a “gender inclusive language quiz,” which asks students to choose “the best sentence” or to offer gender-neutral alternatives to some words.
“Which word is a good replacement for fireman?” the quiz asks, offering “a) fireperson; b) firefighter; c) fire worker; d) arsonist; and e) human torch.”
CSU-Fullerton’s Inclusive Language Program was funded by the Cal State Fullerton Student Success Initiative, which gets its money from student fees.
The Inclusive Language Program materials also bear the logos for the WoMen’s and Adult Reentry Center and Student Affairs.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.