Brandeis University warns students not to say ‘picnic,’ ‘rule of thumb,’ calling words oppressive

Brandeis University has created a list of offensive words for students and staff to avoid. Included in the list are ‘picnic’, ‘rule of thumb’, ‘killing it’, ‘disabled person’, and ‘mentally ill’.

The list was created by a campus counseling service with the input of the student body. According to Brandeis, “Suggestions are brought forth by students who have been subject to violence or who have worked with others who are healing from violence, as well as students who have sought out advanced training for intervening in potentially violent situations.” 

According to the university, the word picnic has racist roots, claiming the word “has been associated with lynchings of Black people in the United States, during which white spectators were said to have watched while eating.” However, Reuters has previously debunked this alleged history.

Reporting the false verdict, Reuters stated “The word picnic does not originate from these brutal killings, but there is sufficient evidence to corroborate that these often occurred in gatherings that could be referred to as picnics.” The university has separated its “Oppressive Language List” into numerous categories including “violent” and “identity-based” language. 



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Antoinette is a community college student in Sacramento, California. She is a Politics Editor at Fact Based America, a correspondent for Campus Reform, and a student journalist. She previously worked for Turning Point USA as a High School Coordinator.

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