A recently released Stanford University guide on “harmful” language it sought to remove from its digital domains includes the word “American.”
The guide seeks to “eliminate many forms of harmful language, including racist, violent, and biased… language in Stanford websites and code” under the school’s Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative, according to the New York Post. “The purpose of this website is to educate people about the possible impact of the words we use,” it asserts.
The lists include a myriad of potentially derogatory or otherwise offensive terms, addressing several demographic groups and constituencies.
Of particular note is a suggestion to replace the term “American” with “U.S. Citizen,” which falls under the “Imprecise Language” section. The guide asserts that the word “American” “often refers to people from the United States only, thereby insinuating that the US is the most important country in the Americas.”
Referring to citizens of the United States as “Americans” is a common shorthand and is not frequently used to refer to nationals of other countries on either American continent.
Stanford Assistant Vice President of External Communications Dee Mostofi told the outlet that “the EHLI website was specifically created by and intended for use within the university IT community. It will continue to be refined based on ongoing input from the community.”