Inclusive language: How it is changing and evolving at CSU

Allec Brust

Inclusive language has been taught at Colorado State University for years and is a topic that continues to grow. It is constantly evolving at CSU, and with that, officials say students need to evolve and learn how to use it, too.

Kyle Oldham, the assistant director of resident life, said CSU is on the right path to inclusivity, but still has room to grow.

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“I think the University is a on a trajectory that will lead us into a future where we truly have a community of care,” Oldham said. “We want people to come to CSU because they know they matter and can find a place where they will be accepted for who their authentic self is.”

Although inclusive language is largely associated with the use of correct gender pronouns, Aaric Guerriero, the director of the on-campus GLBTQQA Resource Center, said there are other derogatory terms that are in the process of being expelled through the use of inclusive language. One example of those terms is the “R-word.”

“It’s important to teach people why words like this are so harmful,” Guerriero said.

Although Guerriero works with the GLBTQQA community, there have been many other instances where he has seen the impact of inclusive language.

“One recent change we have seen is the change in the name of the Mountain Campus, which used to be called Pingree Park,” Guerriero said. “Pingree was actually a general who took part in a massacre that murdered many indigenous and native people, which is why the name was changed.”

Inclusive language has made its mark on CSU, but teaching its use to students and staff is an ongoing process, said Carl Olson, the Women and Gender Advocacy Center program coordinator for men’s programming and violence prevention.

Inclusive language at its core is constantly changing, so enforcers like Guerriero, Olson and other groups who enforce this positive change know it is going to be a process to get everyone on the same page.

“Inclusive language is a topic we continue to strive with each year,” Olson said. “We at the Women and Gender Advocacy Center work with student organizations and departments on campus. We really try to spread this good message and show students what inclusive language is and how it is used.”

One way that inclusive language is enforced is through the resident assistants in the residence halls. Students are encouraged by their RAs to use universal pronouns and indicate to the hall what their preferred pronouns are.

With the use of inclusive language, being willing to learn is key. Sometimes it is not obvious what someone’s preferred pronouns are, but according to Guerrero, it’is OK not to know right away.

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“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes about someone’s pronouns,” Guerriero said. “The best way to find out what someone’s preferred pronouns are is just to ask.”

Inclusive language is important to interactions within the CSU community, which is why it is so important to enforce, Oldham said.

“As the University as a whole continues to encourage and use inclusive language, I truly believe we’ve had stronger and more authentic interactions among members of our community,” Oldham said. “People feel more welcomed in their spaces, people feel like they belong to the larger CSU family and people will ultimately find a community of support.”

Collegian Reporter Allec Brust can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @Brustyyy.