University bans phrases such as 'right-hand man' and 'gentleman's agreement' in favour of gender-neutral terms

By Camilla Turner

A university has banned phrases such as "right-hand man" and "gentleman's agreement" in favour of gender-neutral terms. Photo / 123rf.com
A university has banned phrases such as "right-hand man" and "gentleman's agreement" in favour of gender-neutral terms. Photo / 123rf.com

A university has banned phrases such as "right-hand man" and "gentleman's agreement" under its code of practice on inclusive language.

Cardiff Metropolitan University's guidance dictates that "gender-neutral" terms should be used where possible, adding that students should not allow their "cultural background" to affect their choice of words.

It advises that the terms "forefathers", "mankind" and "sportsmanship" should be avoided, as part of efforts to "embrace cultural diversity" through language.

The university has been accused of undermining free speech and "insulting" students and academics by attempting to dictate their choice of words.

Dr Joanna Williams, a lecturer in higher education the University of Kent and author of Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity, said that advising that certain words are banned is "unnecessary".

"It is a very authoritarian attempt to control the way people think and the language people use," she said.

"The idea that in a university people need to be dictated to in this way is really insulting to students and academics, we should be able to cope with words. These words have evolved over a long period of time and they don't have sexist associations."

Students are told that stereotyping through language "denies people's individuality", and that instead, they should strive to "promote an atmosphere in which all students feel valued".

The guidance - which includes a list of 34 words and phrases that should be avoided - says that student need not be "too anxious" about the use of language.

"Blind people do use terms like 'see you later' and being too careful can make conversation painful for both parties," it adds. It is the latest in a series of attempts on university campuses across the country to implement "politically correct" policies.

Earlier this week it emerged that Cambridge University students had complained about being served "Jamaican stew" and "Tunisian rice", claiming that the cultures were "misrepresented".

Prime Minister Theresa May has hit out at universities for implementing "safe space" policies amid concerns that self-censorship is curtailing freedom of speech on campuses.

The Prime Minister said it was "quite extraordinary" for universities to ban the discussion of certain topics which could cause offence. She warned that stifling free speech could have a negative impact on Britain's economic and social success.

A survey by the radical magazine Spiked, published last month, found that 90 per cent of British universities have been involved in restricting free speech on campus.

It found that in the last year, 21 universities banned high profile speakers from attending lectures, debates or speeches because of their views, including Oxford, King's College London and University College London.

According to the survey, more than 60 per cent of universities now "severely restrict" free speech, meaning they actively censor particular ideas, speakers and texts on campus.

A spokesperson for Cardiff Metropolitan University said: "The University is committed unreservedly to the principle of academic freedom within the law. It is also committed to providing an environment where everyone is valued and treated with dignity and respect. These two commitments are cornerstones of academic life at the University.

"The Code of Practice on Using Inclusive Language sets out a broad approach to promoting fairness and equality through raising awareness about the effects of potentially discriminatory vocabulary. "In particular, it includes some suggestions to support gender equality; these are consistent with other guidance (e.g., British Sociological Association's information on Equality and Diversity)."

- Daily Telegraph UK

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