July 30, 2015 / 7:59 PM / 5 years ago

New Hampshire university removes link to 'bias-free' language guide

MANCHESTER, N.H. (Reuters) - The University of New Hampshire on Thursday removed a language guide from its website that had drawn widespread criticism for urging students to avoid a host of potentially offensive terms, including “American.” 

The “Bias-Free Language Guide” was created two years ago by a group of faculty, students and staff connected to the school’s diversity office, but it was thrust into the spotlight earlier this week by conservative websites that ridiculed it as political correctness taken to an absurd degree. 

In addition to “American” - which the guide said was improperly used to refer to U.S. citizens, ignoring the many other countries in North and South America - the document warned against using the terms obese and rich. The guide suggested “people of size” and “person of material wealth.”

The guide was removed from the university website on Thursday, after UNH President Mark Huddleston met with the school’s associate vice president for community, equity and diversity, a UNH spokeswoman said.

“The president fully supports efforts to encourage inclusivity and diversity on our campuses,” spokeswoman Erika Mantz said in an email. “He does not believe the guide was in any way helpful in achieving those goals. Speech guides or codes have no place at any American university.”

Mantz added that Huddleston was unaware of the guide’s existence until this week and that, in response to the controversy, he had ordered a review of UNH’s web posting policies.

Earlier on Thursday, the state Republican Party called for removal of the guide, saying it was a national embarrassment.

“Not only are these guidelines absurd, they are offensive and unpatriotic,” Republican state Committee Chair Jennifer Horn said in a statement. “UNH students should be proud to be called ‘Americans,’ and any effort to disparage the use of this word should not be promoted with university resources.”

The policies of the state-funded university have come in for criticism in the past from Republicans, who currently control the legislature in New Hampshire.

Reporting by Ted Siefer; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Eric Beech

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