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In another sign that our nation’s higher institutions have been overtaken by radical zealots, the University of Southern California’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work has decided that the word “field” could be considered racist, anti-Black and anti-immigrant, and should not be used. The term “field work,” for instance will now be replaced by “practicum.”
No, I’m not kidding.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services made a similar nonsensical move earlier in the month. They claim that from now on you should use the terms “community/local office” or “community/local staff” to refer to field work.
Today, @uscsocialwork sent out this letter announcing that they will no longer use the word “field” (as in “conducting field work”) because it’s perceived as racist. Is this with merit or empty virtue signaling? @elonmusk @IngrahamAngle pic.twitter.com/kgM9p4MAb5
— Houman David Hemmati, MD, PhD (@houmanhemmati) January 10, 2023
There is so much wrong with this ridiculous language change that it’s hard to know where to start. First, where is the evidence for this silliness; is there a rash of complaints about the term, or a study showing that it’s offensive? While it is true that slaves worked in fields, and migrants still do, there are a zillion words associated with slavery—are we going to ban them all? Slaves were brought over on ships, logic would therefore suggest we drop that word from the vocabulary as well. “Chain” is a word that should obviously be nixed, along with “cotton,” “Africa,” and “ocean.” I’m sure we could come up with a bunch more if only USC would pay us six figures to find something to be aggrieved about.
Slavery was absolutely a stain on our nation’s past whose impacts are still being felt today, but changing common words is not going to re-write history or improve things going forward. It’s just virtue-signaling weirdness.
What about sports, I wonder? Is “football field” now a racist dog whistle? Somehow a movie called “Community/Local Office of Dreams” doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Also painfully awkward is USC’s choice of “practicum,” a word that does not roll off the tongue and is not in the widespread vernacular. What does it even mean? According to Merriam-Webster, it’s defined as:
: a course of study designed especially for the preparation of teachers and clinicians that involves the supervised practical application of previously studied theory
Uh, okay. You mean, field work.
The memo goes on to defend the decision:
“This change supports anti-racist social work practice by replacing language that would be considered anti-Black or anti-immigrant in favor of inclusive language,” they wrote in the announcing the move Monday. “Language can be powerful, and phrases such as ‘going into the field’ or ‘field work’ may have connotations for descendants of slavery and immigrant workers that are not benign.”
Critics weren’t impressed. Cherise Trump (no relation to Donald), the executive director of the free speech organization Speech First, blasted the move in a statement to the Washington Examiner:
Administrators are employing despotic tactics not only to suppress students’ voices, but to also teach students that because anything can be ‘offensive,’ students should let universities be the arbiter of what is right and wrong. It is imperative that these desires to censor and compel speech on campuses are taken seriously. Board members, faculty, state, and federal lawmakers need to act when they see their universities putting speech codes in place, no matter how ridiculous.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s aide Christina Pushaw also had thoughts:
Wow, I went to USC and never thought it was particularly woke. Of course that was 10 years ago now… and I didn’t study social work
— Christina Pushaw 🐊 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) January 10, 2023
Others sounded off too:
For someone who spent more than 7 years at @USC with 2 graduate degrees from this institution, I am so embarrassed at what’s happening there. I wonder how much of my money they spent on coming up with this amazingly useful change.
— Soheil Shams (@SoheilShams2) January 10, 2023
We’ve gotten so used to our nation’s universities embarrassing themselves in recent times that we’re almost numb to it. We can’t let that happen, though, and must continue to call it out and fight for sanity. In the meantime, USC just belittled its hard-earned reputation as a serious academic institution.