A recent editorial at the Daily Princetonian denounces the trend in higher education to eliminate terms like ‘Freshman’ just because it contains the word man. We need more of this sort of defense of language.

Here’s an excerpt:

Editorial: Save the fresh***

The University guidelines prioritize the anticipated reactions of select individuals over widespread community norms in determining the language of the university community. The henceforth frowned upon terms “chairman,” “mailman,” and “spokesman” have a gender-neutral definition in a modern context.

Finally, one of the premises of this latest set of guidelines and the claim made in our colleagues’ dissent is that women or other individuals who do not identify as male may feel so excluded by words that include the term “man” (ex. chairman) that they choose not to pursue leadership roles on campus. The suggestion that a female student would be dissuaded from following her passion by something as simple as its title (which is again properly and commonly understood as being gender-neutral and not exclusive) presents a condescending and demeaning attitude towards Princeton women. Accordingly, such parsing of language is harmful for promoting female agency and achievement on campus.

The instance of students who feel offended by commonly-used and accepted language is a poor indicator of an inclusive campus, since individuals can always find cause for offense. Rather, inclusivity means fostering an intellectual climate in which all parties can freely exchange and challenge ideas. Censoring the English language through dissemination of lists of acceptable vocabulary is contrary to the values of the University and a sinister first step towards Orwellian restriction of language and speech.

Featured image is a screen cap.