A professor decreased a student’s grade on a paper for using the word “mankind.”
Dr. Anne Scott, an English professor at Northern Arizona University, lowered the grade of one of her students, Cailin Jeffers, for using “mankind” instead of a gender-neutral term, as reported by Campus Reform.
“I would be negligent, as a professor who is running a class about the human condition and the assumptions we make about being ‘human,’ if I did not also raise this issue of gendered language and ask my students to respect the need for gender-neutral language,” said Scott. “The words we use matter very much, or else teachers would not be making an issue of this at all, and the MLA would not be making recommendations for gender-neutral language at the national level.”
The English professor told Jeffers that she would allow the student to revise her paper. (RELATED: College Writing Center Declares American Grammar A ‘Racist,’ ‘Unjust Language Structure)
“I will respect your choice to leave your diction choices ‘as is’ and to make whatever political and linguistic statement you want to make by doing so,” wrote the professor. “By the same token, I will still need to subtract a point because your choice will not be made in the letter or spirit of this particular class, which is all about having you and other students looking beneath your assumptions and understanding that ‘mankind’ does not mean ‘all people’ to all people. It positively does not.”
Scott had previously instructed the students to use “gender-neutral language,” telling them to use “humankind” instead of “mankind,” according to Jeffers. The student was not certain whether the professor was serious and decided to test the rule in a subsequent essay, only to have her grade docked.
The professor justified the policy by stating that the American Psychological Association and the Modern Language Association are also encouraging gender-neutral language.
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