Diana Furchtgott-Roth reports that although Princeton University administrators want to ban the use of the word “man” and “woman” in university communications, students are fighting back. The Daily Princetonian, the student newspaper, published an editorial opposing the new policy on gender-neutral terminology.
According to the Daily Princetonian editors: “Censoring the English language through dissemination of lists of acceptable vocabulary is contrary to the values of the University and a sinister first step towards Orwellian restriction of language and speech.”
Princeton’s new policy, issued by the Office of Human Resources in September, verged on the absurd. An employee is not allowed to be described as “manning” the front desk. Employees, plural to avoid the use of “he” or “she,” must “staff” the front desk. No longer could new students be called “freshmen”; they had to be called “first-year students” to avoid the potentially damaging word “men.” “Fireman” became “firefighter.”
Words with female meanings were also banned. “Policewoman” became “police officer,” and “chairwoman” became “chairperson.”
This was ostensibly done to “reflect the inclusive culture and policies at Princeton University,” according to human resources, and to prevent damage to women who might think that “freshmen” did not include them.
The university does not seem to care that the recommended words “chairperson” and “spokesperson” contain the word “son,” which has male connotations, notes Roth.
It is not clear if former Princeton professor Paul Krugman is to be called Krugperson.