Massachusetts College Drops The Word ‘Field’ For Program, Cites ‘Negative Associations’ For ‘Communities Of Color’

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Alexander Pease Contributor
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A private women’s liberal arts school in Massachusetts has decided to let go of the term “field,” noting that the word evokes negative connotations for “communities of color.”

The Northampton, Massachusetts-based Smith College School for Social Work will no longer use common terms such as “going into the field” and “field work,” according to an email.

“SSW’s Core Principles encourage us to center the lived and historical experiences of Black, Indigenous and other communities of color,” the email stated. “We recognize that language is powerful and that phrases such as ‘going into the field’ or ‘field work’ may hold negative associations.” (RELATED: Students At Wellesley College Vote To Allow Transgender And Nonbinary Applicants)

The administrative changes have not come about as a result of students, staff or alumni protesting the word, but rather, it is a preventative measure, Smith’s media relations director Carolyn McDaniel explained to MassLive. McDaniel described the policy as “a proactive decision to bring the language of our program more in line with our goals and intentions.”

On the other hand, Smith College Professor of Economics James Miller opined on Twitter that there are negative connotations that come with “virtue signaling.”

An unnamed Smith spokesperson stated to MassLive that a key variable in administrative decision-making stems from similar trends at other universities. The University of Southern California (USC) pulled the term from its day-to-day vocabulary in January of this year. USC concluded that saying “field work” might “have connotations for descendants of slavery and immigrant workers that are not benign.”

The School for Social Work’s Office of Field Education will now become the “Office of Practicum Learning,” according to the email. Furthermore, the email linked an attachment that laid out over a dozen terms that should be avoided as part of a “language key.” (RELATED: Naval Academy Removes Confederate Name From Campus Building, Replaces It With Dem President)

“We recognize that adopting a new name for our office can be challenging, and we expect this will take some time, but we hope that you’ll join us in this effort to be intentional and inclusive and to stay open and actively engage with change,” the email read.