Purdue takes control of writing guide after controversy

  • Purdue University has taken editorial control of its online writing guide in response to recent controversy over a "biased language" primer that instructed students to avoid "the generic use of MAN and other words with masculine markers."
  • Some faculty members are reportedly unhappy with the change, fretting that it will lead to "micromanagement" of the writing guide's content.

Purdue University has taken editorial control of its online writing guide in response to recent controversy over a "biased language" primer, and some faculty members are not happy.

As Campus Reform previously reported, the popular Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) includes a handout titled “Stereotypes and Biased Language,” which states that words like “mankind,” “man-made,” and “mailman” should be avoided because of their masculine connotations. 

"Now we have a dean who is going to be micromanaging."   

[RELATED: Pitt inclusion guide: correct English is a social construct]

According to the Journal & Courier, Provost Jay Akridge bashed Fox News after the story appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight and Fox and Friends, stating that “this assertion that there was this ‘ban on man’ obviously was a gross misstatement.”

He did, however, announce at the time that the OWL would be undergoing some changes, which included handing editorial control of the guide over to an an advisory board that will work with College of Liberal Arts Dean David Reingold.

Reingold described the move as a minor change, but some faculty members were nonetheless upset by it.

“We’re really concerned about that decision to take out that language,” University Senate member Linda Prokopy said to the contrary, expressing concern over having “a dean who is going to be micromanaging.”

[RELATED: University advises students to avoid the terms ‘husband/wife’]

Following Campus Reform’s coverage of the guide, Purdue removed some of the controversial language in order to make the language “less judgemental and prescriptive,” according to Senior Director of News and Information Brian Zink.

A section of the guide declaring that “writing in a non-sexist, non-biased way is both ethically sound and effective,” for instance, was changed to “writing without gender bias is sound and effective.” 

Notably, the guide also added a section encouraging readers to “always consult your professional or disciplinary community standards or imagine what is appropriate to your rhetorical audience or genre.”

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Adam Sabes
Adam Sabes | Assistant Editor

Adam Sabes is the Assistant Editor reporting on liberal bias and abuse on campus for Campus Reform. Adam was previously the Mississippi Senior Campus Correspondent for Campus Reform.

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