UNH president 'troubled' over bias-free language guide

University of New Hampshire President Mark Huddleston attempted Wednesday to distance himself and the school from a “bias-free language” guide that claims the term “American” is problematic.

“I am troubled by many things in the language guide, especially the suggestion that the use of the term ‘American’ is misplaced or offensive,” Huddleston said in a statement posted on the school’s website.

The New Hampshire Union Leader reported two blogs that follow university issues wrote about the guidelines, which also cautioned against the use of “healthy,” “rich” and “older people” in addition to the term “American.”

The guide states people should refrain from using the world “American” because the word, “depending on context, fails to recognize South America.” The guide says it is preferred to say North American or South American because using American “assumes the U.S. is the only country inside these two continents.”

University spokeswoman Erika Mantz told the Union Leader the guidelines were written in 2013 by “a small group of community members” and faculty aren’t forced to follow the rules laid out in the guidelines.

The Associated Press reports the guide was submitted by the President’s Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities last year and is described as a “4-commission effort.”

Mantz said it's not clear to whom the commissions are supposed to report. Those reporting lines are under review, she said.

New Hampshire Senate majority leader Jeb Bradley said in a statement the school “should concentrate on educating students to compete in the 21st century economy rather than taking political correctness to farcical levels.”

The Union Leader reports the Women’s Commission inspired the conversation about language accuracy in its “Guide to Non-Sexist Language,” according to the UNH website.

Mantz said it is unknown who was consulted about the guide because it’s not official school policy.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.