College Students Penalized for Offensive Words

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Universities penalise undergraduates for ‘offensive’ gender phrases in essays and exams


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Essays will be marked down unless they use ‘gender-sensitive language’, students at a British university have been told.

Many universities are already advising students and staff not to use ‘gender-offensive’ terms such as ‘he’ or ‘she’ to describe people that could be either male or female.

And terms such as ‘mankind’, ‘manpower’ and ‘man-made’ are frowned upon by academics if used in essays.

But now the school of social science at the University of Hull has gone one step further by threatening to deduct marks from students for using such phrases.

A document sent to students reads: ‘Language is important and highly symbolic.

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‘In your essay I thus expect you to be aware of the powerful and symbolic nature of language and use gender-sensitive formations.

‘Failure to use gender-sensitive language will impact on your mark.’

Critics have savaged the move as ‘linguistic policing’ which damages students’ fluent expression and creativity.

Frank Furedi, emeritus professor of sociology at Kent University, told The Sunday Times: ‘Usually such threats are implicit rather than spelled out as in the case of Hull.

‘This linguistic policing is used as a coercive tool to impose a conformist outlook. The alternative is to pay a penalty of being marked down.’

Just last week an American student was penalized for using the term ‘mankind’ in an essay.

Cailin Jeffers, an English student at Northern Arizona University, lost a mark for using the word as a synonym for…

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