University Revises Language Guide To Remove ‘Bunnies,’ ‘Christmas Trees’ From List Of Offensive Terms

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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Michigan State University (MSU) appears to have revised an inclusive language guide to remove words such as “bunnies,” “chicks” and “America” from its list of potentially offensive terms following a string of backlash, the New Guard reported.

MSU’s language guide originally warned readers to refrain from using specific words, such as “bunnies,” “chicks,” “Christmas trees” and “reindeer,”  that could be affiliated with religious holidays. The guide currently posted on the university’s website was revised in April and removes that section as well as one that listed “America” as an avoidable term. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: School District’s ‘Women’ Studies Course Instructs Students To Avoid Using ‘Gender-Biased’ Words)

“The Inclusive Guide is a complement to the MSU style guide and provides recommendations for informing campus communications professionals that includes best practices, suggested terms to avoid and inclusive alternatives. The guide does not apply to academic, medical, legal or other specialized areas,” the guide reads. “It’s important to note that using inclusive language in communications is an evolving and dynamic practice, so while this guide covers several areas, it is not comprehensive in scope. Accordingly, the guide only provides recommendations that should be considered in a case-by-case scenario, as many factors will determine the appropriate language for various types of content and audiences.”

The terms fell under the guide’s Global Identity section, which now advises readers more generally to “avoid references to religious imagery and language” and use phrases such as “wishing you a wonderful winter/spring break” or “best wishes for the new year.” It does not mention the other terms previously associated with Easter, such as “bunnies,” “eggs” and “chicks,” and Christmas, including “merry,” “Christmas trees,” “wreaths,” “holly,” “bells,” “gifts” and “reindeer,” according to the previous guide archived by the New Guard.

Inclusive Guide 3 by Alexa Schwerha on Scribd

Giancarlo Canaporo, a senior legal fellow in the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the guide attempted to prevent students from using any language that could be potentially offensive to others.

“You can’t even refer to Christmas, or bunny rabbit or reindeer not because there’s anything wrong with that, but because it might invoke in somebody’s mind the memory that the beginning of April includes the holiday Easter, which is a Christian holiday,” he previously said. “It’s not that you can’t wish somebody a happy Easter, it’s that you can’t even invoke in people’s minds concepts which they might not like to hear.”

The new guide still includes recommendations for modifying language, including advising readers to stop using “female” in place of “woman” because it “reduces women to their assumed biological anatomy,” according to the new guide. It also advises using “undocumented immigrant” or “immigrant who is undocumented” rather than “illegal immigrant” when referring to immigration status.

MSU did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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