Campus Reform | Calling millennials lazy is ‘biased,’ U of Arkansas says

Calling millennials lazy is ‘biased,’ U of Arkansas says

The University of Arkansas now asks its students to avoid referring to millennials as “lazier than previous generations” because such “phrasing” could be “seen as offensive” or even “biased.”

According to a guide on “using inclusive language” published by the school’s Walton College of Business, students ought to “watch for terms that are used to advance a particular political opinion or phrasing that can be seen as offensive,” such as using “lazier” to compare millennials to other generations.

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Instead, the guide suggests referring to millennials as merely having “a different idea of the value of work than other generations,” noting that the term “lazier” “shows bias by insulting an entire demographic rather than seeking to understand that demographic.”

Additionally, the inclusive-language guide asks students to “use gender-neutral language when referring to a profession or title that is not gender specific,” suggesting the use of “chairperson” in place of “chairman” and “flight attendant” rather than “stewardess.”

The guide, seemingly intended as a resource for writing business correspondence, warns students against making assumptions by encouraging them to make a “conscious effort” to “pay attention” to their language usage, saying a doctor’s office should be referred to as “the office” instead of “his office” as an example.

The guide goes on to condemn the use of “illegal aliens” and “entitlement programs,” calling such phrasing “politically charged,” and instead suggesting the use of “undocumented immigrants” and “government assistance programs,” respectively.

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“Inclusive language is a key component of both academic and business communication,” the guide asserts. “As opposed to biased language, which assumes a subject’s gender, race, or sexual orientation, inclusive language allows the writer to structure sentences more generally.”

UPDATE: Manager of Media Relations Steve Voorhies contested Campus Reform's characterization of the document, offering a distinction between a "'guide' that puts forth a set of standards our students must follow," and a "tip sheet that lists what most business and technical communication textbooks consider commonly accepted tenets of inclusive business communication."

"The goal of this tip sheet is to help students avoid and/or solve business communication problems that might arise in their professional lives," he added, arguing that the university "is not asking it's [sic] student to do anything in particular."

 Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski