Washington State University Professors Threaten Taking Off Points For Saying “Male/Female”, “Illegal Immigrants” In Class

According to a report out of Campus Reform, two Washington State University professors are threatening to deduct points from students for using language they deem offensive or hateful.

The two syllabuses in question (one here, the other here) have sections in them which are rather scary.

1. Gross generalizations, stereotypes, and derogatory/oppressive language are not acceptable. Use of racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, classist, or generally offensive language in class or submission of such material will not be tolerated. (This includes “The Man,” “Colored People,” “Illegals/Illegal Aliens,” “Tranny” and so on – or referring to women/men as females or males) If I see it or hear it, I will correct it in class since it can be a learning moment for many students. Repeated use of oppressive and hateful language will be handled accordingly – including but not limited to removal from the class without attendance or participation points, failure of the assignment, and – in extreme cases – failure for the semester”

2. “A Note on [In]appropriate Terminology: Don’t use it.

• Not “colored” person/s/people but “people of color.”

• Not “the white man” but “white men,” “white males,” or “white society”

• Not “illegal alien” or “illegals” but “undocumented” migrants/immigrants/persons. Note that the Associated Press (AP) has determined not to use it: ‘The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term “illegal immigrant” or the use of “illegal” to describe a person. Instead, it tells users that “illegal” should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.’

• If you use the above terms in your writing, your grade will suffer a deduction of one point per incident.””

Some language limits can be understood, but banning “illegal immigrant” is way too far for me. Even still, at least that’s somewhat understandable. I can see why someone would be taken aback by the word “illegal” as an adjective, even if this is political correctness run amok.

However, male/female to describe men and women? Seriously? Have we reached that point?

I hope any student who is harmed by these limits slaps a lawsuit on Washington State University. They’re a public school. They shouldn’t be allowed to have these limitations on the books.

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4 thoughts on “Washington State University Professors Threaten Taking Off Points For Saying “Male/Female”, “Illegal Immigrants” In Class

  • August 30, 2015 at 10:07 am

    To my mind, “male” and “female” have always had different connotations from “men” and “women”. Male/female are actually biologically correct terms which denote the biological sex of an organism, while men/women refer exclusively to the gender of humans. Since these mean different things, you cannot treat them as being simply alternatives to one another, with one alternative being preferable.

    Similarly, the second point contradicts the first. In the first point, students are told they cannot refer to men/women as male/female, yet the second point notes that referring to white people should be done using words such as, and I quote, “Not “the white man” but “white men,” “white males,” or “white society””. See if you can spot the discrepancy here.

    This sort of thing has got to stop. It’s not only laughably misguided and foolish, but by penalising the use of particular words for no other basis than the teacher dislikes them is spreading misunderstanding and curtailing free speech. The point of academia is to challenge ideas, and to have your own ideas challenged. If a student puts forward a paper that challenged these teachers’ use of terminology, they would no doubt react merely with offence and proceed to mark it down accordingly, rather than using discourse to defend their point. Similarly, by disallowing certain words, they are essentially shutting down the arguments that could be levelled against them. That is not academia, that is blatant ignorance and childishness.

    I understand that in recent years many words have grown to be associated negatively with social justice issues. I would argue, though, that social justice should never be placed above the essential discourse of education. No individual, group, or movement should have absolute power over things so innocuous as terminology.

  • August 31, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    1984 is here. I wonder if any of the college students have read it? Looks like the professors thought it was a textbook.

  • August 31, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    “• Not “colored” person/s/people but “people of color.”

    • Not “the white man” but “white men,” “white males,” or “white society””

    Distinctions without differences. In a few years these same professors will “discover” that the term “people of color” is “hateful”. That’s because the thoughts behind most people who use terms like this are hateful. The words are just an expression of the thought. By controlling the words they hope to control the thought.

    Just like the good totalitarians they are.


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