It is now common for universities to list offensive terms to be avoided by faculty and students, as we have previously discussed at schools like Michigan, James Madison, and Berkeley. Now, Brandeis has issued a list of “oppressive” words that include such expressions as “killing two birds with one stone” and “beating a dead horse.” However, the school did not issue a trigger warning because “trigger warning” is now on the list as . . . well . . . triggering.
We previously discussed Brandeis concern over “trigger warning” warnings and a dean’s controversial declaration that “Yes, all White people are racists.” However, the new list contains further examples of oppressive language and the suggested substitutes. Some have balked at the suggested changes.
Notably, an Iowa State Professor recently countered those questioning the value of trigger warnings and insisted that they should in fact be expanded. Some have cited a Harvard study that undermined claims in support of trigger warnings.
In addition to “trigger warning,” other violent terminology is listed, including “killing it,” “whipped into shape,” and “take a shot at it.”
Rather than use expressions like “killing two birds with one stone,” the school’s Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center (PARC) suggests “feeding two birds with one seed.”
“Culturally appropriative” terms include any references to “tribe” to mean one’s group or identification.
Some of the substitutes seem pretty subtle. For example, the “person first/identity first list” includes terms like “homeless person.” However, the suggested alternative is “person without housing.”
Rather than saying “mentally ill person,” you are asked to say “Person living with a mental health condition.”
Rather than saying “prostitute,” you must say “Person who engages in sex work.”
Rather than saying “slave,” you must say “Person who is/was enslaved.”
For “Identity-based” terms, you are asked to say “bananas” rather than “wild” or “crazy.”
Moreover, referring to “people of color” is deemed oppressive if you are primarily referring to a particular group.
Expressions like “no can do” and “long time no see” are deemed oppressive.
PARC is promising a more expansive list in the future.