Joyce McConnell clarifies misrepresentations of CSU’s inclusive language guide

Samantha Ye

Colorado State University’s new president, Joyce McConnell, issued a statement Monday addressing recent false claims surrounding the University’s inclusive language guide. 

Last week, multiple conservative media sites published pieces about a draft version of the guide, which included the terms “America” and “American” as words to avoid when you are only referring to those in the United States. 


The recommendation did not make the final, official guide. 

However, The Collegian opinion column, which the draft was published in, and initial reports did not have that detail, and CSU received an influx of criticism online, including from one Colorado congressman. 

In an email sent out to the University, McConnell wrote that the claims that CSU is “unpatriotic and restricts free speech” or banned the word “American” from campus, “could not be further from the truth.”

“It is unfortunate that a draft version of our inclusive language guide was mischaracterized by some media outlets through either shallow reporting or intentional misrepresentation of the document and its stated purpose,” McConnell wrote. 

The inclusive language guide is only a recommendation for inclusive language usage, and it is made for internal communicators on campus, McConnell wrote. None of it is required.  

What we do at CSU is engage in rigorous critical thinking, and critical thinking teaches us that our words matter.” Joyce McConnell, CSU president

McConnell wrote that the guide is “absolutely consistent” with the University’s commitment to the free exchange of ideas.

Her statement reaffirmed the initial response made by Tony Frank, CSU system chancellor.

“We do not place prohibitions on language on our campus,” McConnell wrote. “What we do at CSU is engage in rigorous critical thinking, and critical thinking teaches us that our words matter.”

McConnell noted that many other organizations have also developed inclusive language guides. She listed the Associated Press Stylebook, the American Medical Association and the U.S. government agency 18F, the digital services agency. 

“I applaud all who seek to select their words thoughtfully, whether to explain a complex scientific process or address our diverse, inclusive community,” McConnell wrote. “This commitment to communicate our ideas with one another and with the world defines us as an institution of higher education with the highest standards.”


You can read the inclusive language guides here: Draft guide | Official Guide

Samantha Ye can be reached at or on Twitter @samxye4.