Princeton trims down language guide following national criticism

Princeton University has redacted several portions of its “gender inclusive language” guide after facing national criticism for banning the word “man” from all of its HR publications.

The guide comes with a list of terms or phrases to avoid, such as “man and wife” and “forefathers,” instead suggesting the use of words like “spouses [or] partners” and “ancestors” in their place.

Initially, the guide listed more than 30 words and phrases, along with a list of tips that all but forbade the use of the term “man” in any capacity.

“Use gender-neutral occupational titles and gender-neutral generic terms instead of the generic term, man, generic words, and expressions that contain the word man and the use of man as an adjective or verb,” the guide had initially prescribed.

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Now, however, this section as well as several others have been completely removed from an updated version of the guide, which contains a much-abbreviated list of only 9 terms.

“Due to recent misinterpretation and incorrect media reporting of the guidelines, the HR department clarified and streamlined the guidelines to eliminate any misunderstanding of their purpose and scope,” John Cramer, director of media relations, told Campus Reform when explaining the redactions.

Notably, the guide still discourages the use of terms such as “waitress” or “fireman,” noting that phrases like “to operate or to staff” should be used in place of “to man.”

The updated guide even cautions against using “S/he,” a common tactic for avoiding gender-exclusivity, suggesting that “the individual” would be a more appropriate alternative.

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An archived copy of the initial guide shows that while the guidelines only strictly applied to “HR communications,” they were “endorsed by the Institutional Equity Planning Group as preferred university practice.”

The updated version of the guide, however, has cut this section from the document, which Cramer explained by noting that “the guidelines have never applied outside HR documents.”

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