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The New Guard

Michigan State University’s Controversial Language Guide Sparks Outrage and Prompts Retraction

By

New Guard Staff

July 19, 2023

By Jaryn Crouson

Michigan State University published an “Inclusive Guide” last semester, advising students to eliminate certain everyday words from their vocabularies. Terms including “Caucasian,” “female,” and even “America” were deemed offensive without clear justification, according to a tip received through Young America’s Foundation’s Campus Bias Tip Line.

In the face of heated backlash, the university was forced to reverse course, quietly editing the guide and adding a disclaimer in an attempt to defend the original version. The disclaimer states that language is “an evolving and dynamic practice” and claims that the first version was not intended to apply to “academic, medical, legal or other specialized areas.”

Astonishingly, the original guide mentioned “America” in the “Terms to Avoid” section, calling it “American-centric or first-world language.” Though this has since been removed, the university still stands by its suggestion to avoid “Dehumanizing references to national identities, such as ‘foreigner,’ ‘alien,’ ‘illegal immigrant,’ ‘illegals,’ etc.”

In perhaps the most laughable section, the guide had much to say about “religious imagery.” These offensive words included merry, Christmas trees, wreaths, holly, bells, gifts, reindeer, bunnies, eggs, and chicks. Thankfully, this entire paragraph was removed.

Despite these changes, much of the guide’s absurd suggestions remain. “Female,” is still said to be a “pejorative term [that] reduces women to their assumed biological anatomy.” The guide also makes sure to differentiate sex from gender, stating that while sex is biologically determined, gender, including “woman,” is “a person’s deep-seated, internal sense of who they are as a gendered being.” This comes as no shock given the Left’s increasing attempts to remove all distinctions between the two sexes and normalize subjective identity over scientific fact.

Even words that were once deemed the “politically correct” option are no longer safe. “POC,” or People of Color, is no longer inclusive enough; instead, MSU insists you use “QTBIPOC” to include queer and transgender people in the acronym and to highlight Black and Indigenous people. Ironically, just one page earlier the guide claims the word “queer” is a derogatory term that should be avoided.

Other prohibited terms include “freshman” and “upperclassmen,” as they are allegedly considered to be “male-centric,” as well as “sophomore,” “junior,” and “senior” for perpetuating “Western father-son language.” Referring to certain groups as “marginalized,” or “radical” is similarly off-limits, and words such as  “crazy” “tone-deaf,” “paralyzed,” “disabled/handicapped,” “substance abuse,” and “able-bodied,” as well as many common metaphors are labeled “ableist.” 

These examples barely scratch the surface of the 19-page document. Few alternatives to this “offensive” speech are given.

Unfortunately, this incident highlights a growing pattern in modern academia. Just a few months ago, Stanford University faced backlash for publishing a similarly Orwellian “harmful language” guide. The document has since been removed from its website.

While it is reassuring that Michigan State University retracted the original “inclusive guide” in response to public criticism, it is concerning that it was considered acceptable for publication in the first place.

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