Has Stanford University banned the use of the word “Americans” to refer to people who live in the United States? – Liberation

The prestigious University of California found itself at the heart of a controversy after the discovery of a guide to offensive terms compiled at the initiative of its computing community.

In a tweet published on December 25 and viewed nearly a million times, French blogger Hugo Jacomet confirms that “Stanford University decides to replace “American” with “citizen of the United States”, “immigrant” with “person who has migrated” or “double-blind study” with “hidden study”. The world is becoming a mental hospital…”

Hugo Jacomet conveys a controversy born among conservatives in the United States and in which Elon Musk participated. In a message published on December 20, the media owner of Twitter notes: “Stanford rejects saying you’re proud to be an American? Wow.” Other netizens aired their outrage regarding this “list of banned words by Stanford”.

So what is it? The document in question, which was consulted and published by The Wall Street Journal, offers to“consider” the use of certain words instead of others, explaining the reasons for each of the terms.

Word “to avoid”

According to this list, for example, the use of the term “citizen of the United States” is preferable because the word “American” funds “often only people from the US, suggesting that the US is the most important country in the Americas (which actually has 42 countries)”. A clarification that especially irritated some of the conservatives who claim their pride to exist “Americans” and not of “United States” Where “citizens of the United States”.

Hundreds of other terms that would be better avoided appear on this list. There are expressions like “mad”, “blind review”, “disabled parking” which is considered to be “validist language that can trivialize the experience of people living with a disability”. And more English words that contain the words male Where “woman”as “police officer” (policeman in French) is not inclusive enough according to the document.

The document also identifies other terms that refer to ethnic origin. Global expression containing the words “white”, “black” or even “Grey” (used for example to designate certain types of more or less benevolent hackers) are not recommended because they attribute “Value Connotations Based on Color (White=Good), an Action Unconsciously Racialized.”

Stanford assures that this guide is not representative of the university

Faced with this controversy, Steve Gallagher, the chief information officer of Stanford University, issued a press release on December 20 confirming that this list was taken from the Eliminating Hurtful Expression Initiative (EHLI), “a website that provides guidance to the Stanford IT community about word choice in websites and code [informatique utilisé par] Stanford».

But the manager points out “primarily” than this website “does not represent university policy. It also does not represent prohibitions or demands”. The university explains that it was “created by the Stanford Computing Community and intended for discussion within that community” : “It offers alternatives to different terms and explains why these terms can cause problems in certain uses. Its ambition and the reason for its development is to support an inclusive community.”

The prestigious university also returns to the matter of the use of the word “American” that caused the most anger. Steve Gallagher admits to having “clearly missed the mark in this presentation” and confirms it “To be very clear, the use of the term ‘American’ is not prohibited at Stanford, but it is absolutely welcome.” He remembers that “The purpose of this particular post on the EHLI website was to provide perspective on how the term can be imprecise in certain specific uses and to show that the alternative term ‘US citizen’ may in some cases be more accurate and more appropriate”.

In an attempt to quell the controversy, Steve Gallagher insists that this guide “under constant review” and that he listens to different points of view on the subject.


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