University to mark down students who say 'illegal immigrants' in class

'The Man', 'Coloured People' and 'Illegals' have all been banned

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Professors at a US university have told students that they risk failing their assignments and even their semester if they use offensive or hateful language in class or submissions.

Two programmes taught at Washington State University have set out clear restrictions upon the language students can use, banning terms such as “The Man”, “Coloured People” and “Illegals/ Illegal Aliens”.

The terms have been forbidden by certain professors on the basis that they are “oppressive and hateful”, according to one of the syllabuses reported by Campus Reform.

The “Course Notes and Policies” of the university’s “Women & Popular Culture” course taught by Professor Selena Lester Breikss specifies that “Gross generalisations, stereotypes, and derogatory/oppressive language are not acceptable”.

“Use of racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, classist, or generally offensive language in class or submission of such material will not be tolerated,” it adds.

Breikss also bans the use of the words “male and female” in the course.

A further course entitled “Introduction to Comparative Ethics Studies” taught by Professor Rebecca Fowler also states that the use of “inappropriate terminology” will impact on students’ grades, “with the deduction of one point per incident”.

Terms included in the language sanctions include “coloured”, “the white man” and “illegals”.

Fowler cites the Associated Press style guide saying: “The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term 'illegal immigrant' or the use of 'illegal' to describe a person … 'illegal' should describe only an action.”

Professor Fowler told Campus Reform that the term "illegal alien" has saturated dominant discourses to the extent that society “associates ALL unauthorized border crossings with those immigrants originating from countries south of our border.”

The Independent has contacted Washington State University as well as the professors of each course for comment.

Washington State University’s call against inappropriate terms follows a decision by both the University of California and the University of Tennessee to encourage students to use gender-neutral pronouns for transgender and queer-identifying students.

Tutors have been requested to consider asking students which pronouns they wish to be addressed by, warning against assuming gender-binary pronouns “he” and “she”.