Word police? MSU 'Inclusive Guide' gives words to avoid like 'Pioneer,' 'Christmas tree'

A Spartan free-speech crackdown? Or a more acceptable way to support diversity?

That’s the current debate following Michigan State University’s recently updated "Inclusive Guide" a document detailing terms to avoid so no one feels left out and ostracized.

Among those no-no words:

"Frontier" and "Pioneer." Words deemed "colonial language" according to Michigan State’s Inclusion Division.

They also say to avoid holiday-related mentions so non-Christians are not excluded, like:

"Christmas trees"

Other terms are also frowned upon:

"Cake walk"
"Peanut gallery"
"Grandfather clause"
"Rule of thumb"

MSU administrators say they may be considered "racist, sexist or ableist" in nature.

FOX 2: "What do you think about some of those terms?"

"Well, I think that you have to walk the streets down here very carefully and lightly," said one man. "I think it’s about just having consideration for everybody else and what they think."

FOX 2 hit the streets around the MSU Detroit Center in Midtown to see what people think about the new language guidelines.

"I do think it’s more worth it to be sensitive with our words. I think we are becoming more progressive in that sense so I do agree I mean we are in 2023," said one woman. "Whatever makes people feel more comfortable, I think that we should be able to adapt to that."

But some consider it an all-out attack on free speech. Student Audrey Whipple phoned into Fox News Channel from East Lansing. She considers herself a conservative activist.

"We’ve seen universities put out these inclusive language guides, these harmful language guides and Michigan State has just gone too far," Whipple said.

A spokesman for the MSU administration sent FOX 2 a statement saying quote:

"Contrary to initial reports, the university does not ban specific terms through the inclusive language guide. This guide provides recommendations, not requirements, for more inclusive communications at MSU. It also provides guidance on ways to be more inclusive with imagery use during holiday seasons in the winter and spring by encouraging individuals to consider how using imagery solely from one religion may contribute other religions feeling excluded or less than."

This however, does not satisfy everyone.

"This list just continues to grow and grow, these terms that are deemed harmful that everyday Americans are using," Whipple said. "And in my mind professors are going to be worried so much about the social shame that comes with even just using the words that they’re used to using."

The guide says that people do make mistakes and to give yourself grace if you mistakenly use them.

The university says these are not banned words - just recommendations.