Michigan State University has adopted an ‘inclusive language guide’ that discourages references to reindeer and Christmas trees, as well as a litany of other seemingly harmless words.

MSU administrators expressed concerns that used phrases such as ‘rule of thumb’ and ‘cakewalk’ could be considered “racist, sexist or ableist” to certain students.

The list also discourages language that administrators perceive to be ageist such as ‘grandfather’ or ‘grandfather clause’.

While some students and residents expressed support for the measures, saying that they will make people feel more ‘included’ on campus, other see it as an egregious violation of the first amendment.

One person interviewed who supports the measure said that people at the University have to walk ‘carefully’ down the streets for fear of being ostracized.


Another person who opposed the language guide said that it will chill free speech on campus and make professors afraid to speak on sensitive and important matters.

Administrators have defended the language guide by reiterating that it is a set of recommendations and does not ban the use of phrases mentioned in it.

FOX 2 Detroit Reports

A Spartan free-speech crackdown? Or a more acceptable way to support diversity?

That’s the current debate following Michigan State University’s recently updated “Inclusive Guide” a document detailing terms to avoid so no one feels left out and ostracized.

Among those no-no words:

“Frontier” and “Pioneer.” Words deemed “colonial language” according to Michigan State’s Inclusion Division.

They also say to avoid holiday-related mentions so non-Christians are not excluded, like:

“Christmas trees”

Other terms are also frowned upon:

“Cake walk”
“Peanut gallery”
“Grandfather clause”
“Rule of thumb”

MSU administrators say they may be considered “racist, sexist or ableist” in nature.

FOX 2: “What do you think about some of those terms?”

“Well, I think that you have to walk the streets down here very carefully and lightly,” said one man. “I think it’s about just having consideration for everybody else and what they think.”

FOX 2 hit the streets around the MSU Detroit Center in Midtown to see what people think about the new language guidelines.

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