Don't say 'man up,' 'like a girl,' Chico State athletes say

Students at California State University-Chico are being treated to an educational campaign instructing them to avoid phrases like “man up” and “like a girl.”

The school’s athletics department announced last week that it will participate in the “You Don’t Say” campaign at the behest of the Chico State Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), and has already begun hanging posters around campus admonishing students to avoid a variety of potentially-offensive words and phrases.

[RELATED: ‘Is your costume racist?’ UW-La Crosse asks students]

The posters, which are also available on the Chico State Athletics Facebook page, feature still-shots of student athletes captioned with statements such as “I don’t say ‘like a girl’ because gender has no limits” and “I don’t say ‘coward’ because you can’t judge someone else by your own standards.”

“We don’t say ‘just kill me’ because suicide is not a joking matter and never will be,” states another poster, while still others seek to discourage terms such as “run like a girl,” “man up,” and “what are you?”

SAAC co-president Haley Kroll, who led the push to adopt the campaign, said the idea was inspired by a Duke University initiative that was “designed to raise awareness about language that marginalizes or offends particular identities.”

“The whole purpose of this campaign is to open people's eyes and let them see what these words mean and how hurtful they can be” Kroll explained. “We want everyone to feel included, and we want our language to reflect that.”

Dylan Wakefield, a Senior who participated in the campaign, echoed Krolls’ sentiments, expressing optimism that students will takes its message to heart.

“I think this campaign will start much needed conversations about sensitive language and diversity issues” he told Campus Reform. “At the end of the day, hopefully this campaign will at least [make students] think twice about what they say knowing that what they say could offend the person next to them on a deeper level.”

Another student, Briana Contreras, said that one of the benefits of the campaign is that it may cause people to change their language, arguing that it “can spread awareness about words or phrases that can be harmful to other people, so they won’t say that anymore.”

[RELATED: UMD tells students to use ‘undocumented citizen,’ not ‘illegal alien’]

Joe Willis, director of public affairs for Chico State, told Campus Reform that the campaign is important because it brings greater awareness “to how language can be hurtful even in cases when the speaker was not aware of the words’ meanings,” adding that it also “supports those individuals on campus who have been hurt or humiliated in the past by such language.”

According to Willis, the school’s participation in the campaign is funded through a $1,050 grant parlayed from an NCAA appropriation earmarked for diversity efforts within the California Collegiate Athletic Association conference.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen