The University of Michigan has a “Words Matter Task Force.”
Seriously. Maybe that’s why out-of-state tuition costs more than $66,000 a year.
The WMTF, set up by the school’s Information and Technology Services (ITS) department, has declared that it finds more than two dozen words and phrases possibly offensive to people, including “picnic,” “brown bag” and “blacklist.”
“To effectively communicate with customers, it is important for ITS to evaluate the terms and language conventions that may hinder effective communication, harm morale, and deliberately or inadvertently exclude people from feeling accepted to foment a healthy and inclusive culture,” the task force said in a memo.
The WMTF offers alternative words to use, for instance urging people to say “gathering” instead of “picnic” and “lunch and learn” instead of “brown bag.”
“The word ‘picnic’ appears to be banned because of false suggestions on the internet that it originates from the racist, extrajudicial killings of African Americans,” the Daily Mail reported. “The word picnic actually comes from the 17th century French word ‘pique-nique,’ a term used to describe a social gathering in which attendees each contributed with a portion of food.”
In July, the Reuters News Agency published a piece headlined: “Fact check: The word picnic does not originate from racist lynchings.”