University of New Hampshire No Longer Asking Students to Fix Problematic Speech

Bias-Free Language Guide removed from UNH website.



Administrators at the University of New Hampshire have taken down the Bias-Free Language Guide, likely in response to widespread mockery from an ideologically diverse range of critics.

The guide—a list of "problematic" words and phrases so comprehensive that a screenshot of it should appear on the Wikipedia page for political correctness—could previously be found on UNH's website as a resource for students and faculty. Campus Reform first drew attention to it earlier this week, pointing out the guide's contention that the word "American" was a problematic way to describe a U.S. citizen:

The guide notes that "American" is problematic because it "assumes the U.S. is the only country inside [the continents of North and South America]." (The guide doesn't address whether or not the terms "Canadians" and "Mexicans" should be abandoned in favor of "Residents of Canada" and "Residents of Mexico," respectively.)

The guide clarifies that saying "illegal alien" is also problematic. While "undocumented immigrant" is acceptable, the guide recommends saying "person seeking asylum," or "refugee," instead. Even saying "foreigners" is problematic; the preferred term is "international people."

The subconscious theme here is that every conceivable way to describe someone can and should be made longer. Thus the obese become "people of size," Caucasians become "European-American individuals," the rich become "people of material wealth," etc.

UNH President issued a statement on Wednesday clarifying that obedience to the guide was not mandatory; he even confessed to disagreeing with parts of it. By Thursday, the guide had disappeared from UNH's website altogether. The following statement was issued:

The associate vice president for community, equity and diversity removed the webpage this morning after a meeting with President Huddleston. The president fully supports efforts to encourage inclusivity and diversity on our campuses. He does not believe the guide was in any way helpful in achieving those goals. Speech guides or codes have no place at any American university.

President Huddleston has ordered a review of UNH's web posting policies in the weeks ahead. He was surprised and unhappy to learn that the university does not have practices that make clear which web pages include UNH policies and which pages include content that reflects the opinions of some members of our community.

The university has more than 1 million web pages on its site; university administration was not aware of the "language guide" until this week. 

It's good to hear that UNH leadership does take concerns about free speech seriously. As a reminder, it's fine for universities to educate students about offensive language, although such lessons should be reserved for the classroom. But administrators at a public university can't force students to sanitize their language.