The IT department recently issued an “inclusive language guide” that calls many everyday words used by Americans “problematic.”
But it turns out that many of those words are used on the department’s own website.
The “inclusive language guide” claims a number of words and phrases are “racist,” “sexist,” “ageist,” or “homophobic.” Those words, according to the guide, include “grandfather,” “housekeeping,” “minority,” “ninja,” “lame,” “man-in-the-middle,” “mantra,” and “see.”
The guide states that IT department employees are responsible for ensuring that “racist, sexist, ageist, ableist, homophobic, or otherwise non-inclusive language are not within the materials and resources online.”
From the looks of the department’s own website, it appears those employees have some work to do.
“Mantra,” for example, is one word deemed “non-inclusive” but it appears on a technology help guide on the department’s website.
“A tool for every occasion. That’s our mantra here at the UW, and because we know you’re always on the move, Mobile.UW gives you quick links to UW’s major apps, websites and resources in a mobile-friendly format,” the website states.
The language guide states that “mantra” is “problematic” because it’s used in the Buddhist and Hindu community.
“Many people in the Buddhist and Hindu community hold this term ‘mantra’ as highly spiritual and religious experience, and is not to be used with nonchalance,” the guide states.
On a separate occasion, the department used the phrase “man-in-the-middle,” which is also deemed “problematic” by the language guide.
“Please note that to protect yourself from server operators who have not yet chosen to disable it (and man-in-the-middle attacks), you should disable it on your clients,” one department webpage from 2021 states.
The department’s language guide considers “man-in-the-middle” a “problematic” phrase because of the use of “man.
“Use of ‘man’ is not inclusive, and thus sexist,” the guide states.
“Use of ‘man’ is not inclusive, and thus sexist.”
Another page on the department’s website uses the word “minority,” which is also deemed “problematic” by the language guide because it “implies a ‘less than’ attitude toward the community or communities being discussed.”
The webpage also uses the word “see,” which is also considered “problematic” by the language guide. At the bottom of the language guide, a prompt reads “See a problem? Let us know.”
“Though these uses of the word ‘see’ aren’t inherently incorrect or necessarily offensive, content providers should avoid using the word “see” in situations in which a more accurate, non-ableist word would be better,” the guide states.
The word “lame” is also considered problematic because of it’s “ableist” roots.
“This word is offensive, even when it’s used in slang for uncool because it’s using a disability in a negative way to imply that the opposite, which would be not lame, to be superior,” the guide states.
The guide also encourages employees within the department to contact vendors who use the “problematic words and phrases” and ask them to avoid terms that come from “racist, ableist and/or sexist origins,” and are given sample prompts to email to vendors.
“Unfortunately, in working with your product/service we have identified language that can be considered offensive due to its racist, ableist and/or sexist origins,” the email prompt states. “Can you let us know what efforts you are undertaking to move away from this language so as to create a more inclusive product/service?”
A University of Washington spokesperson told Fox News Digital that the guide is a “work in progress.”
“The incorporation of these best practices is a work in progress. The guide is not intended to cast aspersions on any individuals or departments, but rather to provide a reference to be more thoughtful in the choice of language being used. We, as everyone should, seek to continue to learn and improve, and there is always more work to be done to maintain a welcoming and inclusive environment,” the spokesperson said.