Princeton: Stop Using The Word ‘Man’

August 26, 2016

At Princeton University, using the word "man" could now be too offensive to tolerate.

The Princeton University HR department has determined the word "man," indicative of a gender binary, "does not take into consideration individuals who identify as otherwise, including and not limited to transgender, genderqueer, gender nonconforming, and/or intersex.”

A new policy has been implemented asking all HR employees at Princeton to use a new “gender inclusive language” guide to communicate with others. The four-page guide includes a list of tips on curbing potentially offensive language, as well as as an instructive list of words to “use” or “don’t use.”

“These communication guidelines reflect the inclusive culture and policies at Princeton University,” the policy states.

Employees are advised to “replace gendered pronouns” such as s/he, him/her, and his/hers, with plural texts such as "they," "them," and "their." Other suggestions include avoiding using the pronoun altogether, repeating the noun, and using "you" and "your" instead of the above-mentioned gender pronouns.

Instead of using the word "man," the policy states, employees should use gender-neutral “occupational titles” to identify subjects. Expressions that contain the word man in it, such as “spokesman” or “anchorman,” as well as the use of "man" as an adjective or verb, should be avoided.

An example the guidebook uses is that instead of stating, “Please get a clerk to man the front desk,” employees should state, “Please get a clerk to staff the front desk.” Nouns listed under the guidebook “don’t use” section include words indicating any form of gender-binaries. Instead of “actress,” “actor” should be used. Instead of “alumna/alumnus/alumni/alumnae,” “alum/grad, alums/grads” should be used. Instead of “coed,” “student” should be used. Instead of “fireman,” “firefighter” should be used.

All terms referring to humanity with the word "man" in them should be avoided.

Furthermore, all terms referring to humanity with the word "man" in them should be avoided as well, the new policy states. “Mankind” should be replaced with “humankind.” “Man-made” should be replaced with “artificial, handmade, manufactured, synthetic.” “Manpower” should be replaced with “personnel, staff, workers, workforce.”

The guidelines are issued by Princeton’s HR office together with the Office of Communications and are endorsed by the Institutional Equity Planning Group, a committee “designed to promote equal opportunity and campus diversity” at Princeton.

John Cramer, director of media relations at Princeton, told the College Fix that the HR guidelines “reflect the university’s initiative of fostering an inclusive environment.” Cramer clarified that students are not mandated to follow this employee policy.

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