Goshen College, as a Christian college, expresses “a vital concern for the welfare of all members of our community.” (Student Handbook) As an equal opportunity educational institution, we are committed to both academic freedom and the fair treatment of all individuals.
Because we realize that language is a basic means of communicating attitudes as well as information, we commit ourselves to the use of language that articulates our regard for one another, spiritually as well as intellectually. Because we realize that we have a moral obligation not only to educate our students but to help them develop Christian values and lifestyles, we commit ourselves to modeling behavior free of inappropriate and demeaning attitudes, assumptions, and stereotypes about marginalized identities. Accordingly, all official college communications, written or spoken, will be free of discriminatory language.
We commit ourselves to, and will work toward, increasing awareness of the impact of language so that our college will provide a positive experience for all students, faculty and staff. To that end, we agree to the following guidelines for inclusive language:
- To use multiple terms or more inclusive words (such as “people”) rather than the consistent “generic” use of masculine terms (such as “man, men, he, him, his,” etc.) when referring to all genders together.
- To use neutral pronouns in referring to anything without gender or to collective expressions including all genders.
- To avoid language which stereotypes an occupation or characteristic according to social identities.
- To guard against double standards in reference to characteristics when applied to social identities, and when applied to qualities of character which may be found in all people.
- To use the full names of individual people (such as Michelle Miller rather than Miss Miller or Mrs. Tom Miller).
We adopt these guidelines for use on and off campus. We understand this commitment to using language inclusively and welcome dialogue with students about using appropriate language as one means of countering and correcting discriminatory attitudes and behavior.
What follows are suggestions for applying the inclusive language statement:
- Make your expectations clear about the use of inclusive language in both spoken and written work. Treat departures from the standard as you treat departures from other standards.
- Seek to involve each other in a common effort to make the language of the classroom as inclusive as possible. None of us has reached perfection in our choice of words. Invite others to help you improve as you seek to do the same for them.
- Remember that groups that only include privileged social identities need to practice inclusive language as much as more heterogeneous groups.
- Professors, consult the guidelines for inclusive language published by your own professional societies. Help yourself and your students become current in this area of your field.
Updated Spring 2016