Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. is being slammed today for what many students and alumni call “woke madness.” The elite college has provided an updated list of appropriate terminology to be used on campus, warning students and faculty about using what the school deems “violent language.” The announcement includes phrases like “trigger warning,” which was a phrase originally coined to warn audiences of potentially sensitive material.
The elite private school created the anti-violence resource, The Prevention, Advocacy & Resource Center, to provide information and advice to students and staff. The resource provided the list of violent or insensitive terminology, which included idioms like “picnic” and “rule of thumb.”
The list was shared on social media and many users were quick to snap back at Brandeis University, calling its list “woke madness.” While some have gone a more comical route in their protest of the terminology list, others have likened the school’s actions to Orwell’s 1984, where governments police individuals on a microscopic level.
The college claimed that the word “picnic” is often associated with historic lynching, which saw groups of white families feasting outside, watching BIPOC be lynched. Brandeis University says that the idiom is tied to the oppressive history and should be irradicated from our vocabulary.
Daily Mail pointed out that the term derived from the French “pique-nique,” which was used to describe the “taking of one’s own wine to a meal,” and later evolved to mean the “sharing of food outdoors.” Though the phrase might be tied later in its history to the violent acts, it has no real etymological connection.
Among other phrases deemed “violent” by the elite private school is “rule of thumb,” which Brandeis University says has roots in a terrible British law that allowed men to beat their wives with sticks no wider than their thumb. However, Daily Mail suggests that that idiom is “another spurious etymological interpretation” that has been wrongly associated with the British law, which has no evidence pointing towards its existence, anyway.
In its warning to students and faculty, Brandeis University included several lists, which direct individual speech in a manner that, the school claims, is best suited for sensitivity. One such list is the Person-First Language list, which eliminates words like victim, addict, and prostitute from the English vocabulary.
Instead, those at Brandeis are expected to exchange those terms with the “person-first” rule, which changes words like “victim” to “person who has experienced…” The instructions explain that this kind of language “helps us resist defining people by just one thing about them.”
The most notable retraction is the phrase “trigger warning,” which was originally coined to protect people from potentially offensive or “triggering” material. The phrase has been used across social media before potentially offensive stories or videos, however, Brandeis warns students and faculty from using the phrase at all. Though originally deemed a “liberal” idiom, the liberal private school has decided it no longer belongs in modern vernacular.
“The word ‘trigger’ has connections to guns for many people; we can give the same head’s up using language less connected to violence,” The Prevention, Advocacy & Resource Center wrote. Social media backlash claims the removal of the phrase is a redundant act from the far-left.
This isn’t the first time Brandeis University has made headlines for its so-called “wokeness.” Last month, the school’s dean, Kate Slater, criticized her own “whiteness” claiming that “all white people are racist.”
The claim came in the form of a social media post, which explained that “whites have been conditioned in a society where one’s racial identity determines life experiences/outcomes and whiteness is the norm and default.” The Dean also claimed she was a part of the problem, writing “That includes me!”
Brandeis has requested that students and faculty submit additional words or phrases that can be considered harmful, “violent,” or “oppressive.” The university’s attack on language is be rallied against by social media users, who say that what the school is doing violates the freedom of speech protected in the first amendment.