Campus Reform | Brandeis U: Don't say 'policeman' or other 'offensive' language

Brandeis U: Don't say 'policeman' or other 'offensive' language

Brandeis University's 'Oppressive Language Guide' discourages those at the school from using a list of words and phrases, including 'policeman.'

Students are encouraged to submit other words or phrases they want to see added for 'personal reasons.'

The Prevention, Advocacy & Resource Center (PARC) at Brandeis University has released an “Oppressive Language List” on its website that encourages the school community to cease using the term “policeman.”

“Police Officer” is the university’s preferred term and appears under a set of “Possible Alternatives” for language that PARC deems to be “violent,” “identity-based,” “person-first,” “culturally appropriative,” or that “doesn’t say what we mean.” 

PARC designates “killing it” and “trigger warning” as “violent language” due to their “connections to guns for many people.” The university office also includes “picnic” in the same section, alleging that the word is historically associated with lynchings.  

Reuters has previously reported on the word “picnic” and found that it “does not originate from racist lynchings.”

Campus Reform reached out to Brandeis University for comment Tuesday, specifically for clarification over the inclusion of “people of color” as both an example of “oppressive language” and a “possible alternative.” 

The PARC website informs readers that “people of color” is offensive due to its “generic” nature, but then encourages university personnel to use BIPOC instead, an acronym for “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.”

The university's Office of Communications, Marketing and External Relations has not yet responded to Campus Reform’s multiple requests for comment. 

The other discouraged terms include “prostitute,” “addict,” and “homeless person.” Instead, the university wants readers to say “person who engages in sex work,” “person with a substance use disorder,” or “person who is experiencing housing insecurity.”

Students are invited to submit suggestions to the list of oppressive language. The PARC submission form states that "personal reasons are more than welcomed" for recommending a word or term. 

Campus Reform also reached out to Northeast Regional Director at YAL and Black Lives Matter at Brandeis University for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.