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Inclusive Community-Creating Policy

Eastern Mennonite University Policy on Inclusive, Community-Creating Language

Preamble:

Language use is a social practice that can include or exclude people. At EMU, we recognize that all human beings are persons of infinite worth created equally in the image of God. Accordingly, we recognize that the language we use to speak about each other is no negligible matter but one of crucial importance. The words by which we name and address each other are used to recognize each other mutually and to empower each other to live out our potential.

Policy:

Eastern Mennonite University expects all its faculty, staff, and students to adopt inclusive written and spoken language that welcomes everyone regardless of race or ethnicity, gender, disabilities, age, and sexual orientation. We will use respectful and welcoming language in all our official departmental documents and correspondence, including those put forth by way of Internet communication, and throughout all academic coursework, inclusive of classroom presentations and conversations, course syllabi, and both written and oral student assessment materials.

Considerations:

  • This policy does not attempt to cover all social practices that can create openness and hospitality or alienation and closing off of community. The focus of the policy is on language use within the EMU community of teaching, classroom discussions, research design and worship.
  • This policy does not apply to personal conversations, although we encourage attentiveness to inclusive language use there as well.
  • This policy does attempt to demonstrate current best academic practices; we recognize that acceptable academic language, living and continuously changing, includes some practices (e. g., the use of professional titles) that are locally contested. For examples, see the Best Practices for Inclusive Language in the Faculty Procedures for specific ways to utilize this policy.
  • Language should emphasize the agency of those who are being discussed. Even prior to writing, academic research needs to include reliable and valid data and the voices and perspectives of the groups or individuals under consideration. Best academic practices are defined as ones that include diverse individuals and groups, enabling us to see people as full humans without drawing attention to irrelevant or stereotypical differences.

Responsible party: Provost’s Council

Approved by provost’s council April 26, 2017 
Approved by president’s cabinet May 10, 2017