Cardiff Metropolitan University in the UK has told students and staff to avoid gendered words like “sportsmanship” and “manpower,” also saying that “first name” or “forename” is preferable to “Christian name.”
The inclusive-language guidelines, which have been in place for a few years but were first reported by the Telegraph Thursday, are an effort to “promote fairness and equality through raising awareness about potentially discriminatory vocabulary.”
Cardiff Metropolitan takes the policy one step further than similar ones recently rolled out at other Western schools: Most colleges say their inclusive-language guidelines are merely recommendations. But at Cardiff Metropolitan, students who use banned words and phrases could face discipline under the university’s bullying and harassment policy, while employees may also face repercussions, the Daily Mail reported.
The Welsh school’s guidelines offer a litany of advice, warning students and staff to avoid gendered language. It specifically mentions dozens of words to avoid, also offering broad guidelines about how to talk about disabled or transgender people.
“Don’t be too anxious about the use of language, though,” the policy says. “Blind people do use terms like ‘see you later’ and being too careful can make conversation painful for both parties.”
In statements to the British press, Cardiff insisted that it was upholding both academic freedom and the promoting a campus atmosphere free of discrimination.
Cardiff Metropolitan University is far from the only place to implement a so-called inclusive language policy. In December, the University of Sussex in England advised professors not to assume students’ gender, while in January, the doctors’ trade union, the British Medical Association, told physicians not to refer to pregnant patients as “mothers” because it might offend expectant “intersex men and trans men.”
And in the United States, prestigious Princeton came under fire for banning several man-based words, and California State University Fullerton, California State University Northridge, the University of Northern Colorado, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee are among several to launch campaigns warning about potentially offensive words and phrases. Unlike Cardiff Metropolitan, though, these institutions don’t threaten formal discipline for violators.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.