GC Commitment to Inclusive Language

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 age, race and sex. Accordingly, all official college communications, written or spoken, will be free of racist, sexist and ageist language.

We commit ourselves to, and will work toward, increasing sensitivity to 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:

  1. To use multiple terms or more inclusive words (such as “women and men” or “humans”) rather than the consistent “generic” use of male terms (such as “man, men, he, him, his,” etc.) when referring to men and women together.
  2. To use neuter pronouns in referring to anything without gender or to collective expressions including both genders.
  3. To avoid language which stereotypes an occupation or characteristic according to sex, age or race.
  4. To guard against double standards in reference to characteristics when applied to women or men, old or young, Caucasians or others, and when applied to qualities of character which may be found in all people regardless of age, sex or national heritage.
  5. To use the full names of individual people (such as Michelle Miller rather than Miss Miller or Mrs. Tom Miller). Older people may prefer to be addressed or described by title.
  6. To consult and use resources available in Good Library.

We adopt these guidelines for use in the classroom, in class and office materials, chapels, convocations and other gatherings. We understand this commitment to using language inclusively and welcome dialogue with students about using appropriate language as one means of countering and correcting sexist, racist and ageist attitudes and behavior.

What follows are suggestions for applying the inclusive language statement.

  1. 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.
  2. Seek to involve students 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 students to help you improve as you seek to do the same for them.
  3. Remember that all-male, all-white, and all-young classes need to practice inclusive language as much as more heterogeneous groups.
  4. 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.
  5. Though changing our language habits does require some conscious effort, we need not make it sound like an overwhelming task. If we consider this goal attainable inside and outside the classroom, we will have made some progress toward its achievement.