Students at one British university could be reprimanded if they use one or more of the 34 newly banned terms deemed “sexist” by college administrators.
Cardiff Metropolitan University in Cardiff, Wales, recently revised its code of practices, according to The Independent, asking students to use terms that are more inclusive and gender neutral instead of allowing their “cultural backgrounds” to inform the kinds of words they use on campus.
The lengthy list of banned terms include words like “mankind,” “sportsmanship,” “forefathers” and “gentleman’s agreement.” University administrators are calling on students to “embrace cultural diversity” by abandoning such terminology.
Also, the school is asking its students to no longer employ the terms “homosexual” and “heterosexual” because they are “laden with the values of a previous time.”
“Referring to ‘same-sex’ and ‘other-sex’ relationships is a good option,” the university guide suggests.
It goes on to instruct students to avoid characterizations like “the disabled” and “the blind” because people don’t like being “lumped together” in groups.
” ‘Disabled people’ is preferable to ‘the disabled’ or ‘people with disabilities,’ as it emphasizes that the people are disabled by a society which doesn’t accommodate them,” the guide reads, adding, “Don’t be too anxious about the use of language, though.”
The document also reminds students that blind people do use phrases like “see you later,” so being too cautious and avoiding such colloquialisms “can make conversation difficult for both parties.”
There are some, though, who don’t see the new rule as inclusive. Instead, critics argue the policy is an attack on free speech. Dr. Joanna Williams, an academic freedom advocate and lecturer at the University of Kent, said the ban is an “insulting” attempt to control students’ communications.
“The idea that in a university people need to be dictated to in this way is really insulting to students and academics, we should be able to cope with words,” she told The Independent. “These words have evolved over a long period of time and they don’t have sexist associations.”
The university, of course, sees it differently. In a statement on the new policy, a spokesperson said the university is “committed to providing an environment where everyone is valued and treated with dignity and respect.”
“The Code of Practice on Using Inclusive Language sets out a broad approach to promoting fairness and equality through raising awareness about the effects of potentially discriminatory vocabulary,” the spokesperson said.
In December, Oxford University instructed students to refer to each other with the gender-neutral term “ze” instead of “he” or “she.” The rule is intended to keep transgender students from being offended by the use of “unpreferred” pronouns.
“This issue isn’t about being [politically correct],” Peter Tatchell, a human rights campaigner and LGBT activist, told the U.K.’s Times. “It’s about respecting people’s right to define themselves as neither male nor female.”
Cambridge University, the Times reported, is moving in the same direction.
The University of Tennessee in Knoxville faced intense scrutiny in 2015 when it introduced the terms “ze” and “xe” into its campus lexicon. The proposal was ultimately walked back after conservative lawmakers condemned the policy as “political correctness run amok,” according to Inside Higher Ed.
However, the University of Tennessee said it was not mandating students to use the gender-neutral terms by banning the traditional “he” and “she” pronouns — it was just a recommendation.
“There is no mandate or official policy to use the language,” a university spokesperson said at the time. “Neither the university nor the Office for Diversity and Inclusion has the power or authority to mandate use of gender-inclusive pronouns.”
See the full list of words banned at Cardiff below:
Gender-neutral terms checklist
Best man for the job
Charwoman, cleaning lady
Girls (for adults)
Man or mankind
Man (verb) eg man the desk
Man in the street, common man
Best person for the job
Businessperson, manager, executive
Chair, chairperson, convenor, head
Craftsperson, craft worker
Delivery clerk, courier
Dear Sir/Madam (or Madam/Sir)
Supervisor, head juror
Unwritten agreement, agreement based on trust
Shopper, consumer, homemaker (depends on context)
Humanity, humankind, human race, people
Operate, staff, work at
Average/ordinary/typical citizen/person – but is there such a person?
Work-hour, labour time
Artificial, manufactured, synthetic
Human resources, labour force, staff, personnel,
Woman doctor – or feminine forms of nouns eg actress, poetess
Working man, working mother/wife
Workmanlike workers, workforce
Ms unless a specific preference has been stated – though its common not to use titles at all these days
Fairmess, good humour, sense of fair play
Airline staff, flight attendant, cabin crew
Doctor (actor, poet etc)