USC’s School of Social Work is removing the word “field” from its curriculum and practice, arguing that it “could be considered anti-black or anti-immigrant” to say someone is “going into the field” or conducting “field work.” The university explains, “our goal is not just to change language but to honor and acknowledge inclusion and reject white supremacy, anti-immigrant and anti-blackness ideologies.”
“We have decided to remove the term ‘field’ from our curriculum and practice and replace it with ‘practicum.’ This change supports anti-racist social work practice by replacing language that could be considered anti-black or anti-immigrant in favor of inclusive language,” a letter from the Practicum Education Department read.
The letter was shared by Houman David Hemmati, a board-certified MD Ophthalmologist and Ph.D. research scientist, who said the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work “will no longer use the word ‘field’ (as in ‘conducting field work’) because it’s perceived as racist.”
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
“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,” the letter continued.
The department went on to say “our goal is not just to change language but to honor and acknowledge inclusion and reject white supremacy, anti-immigrant and anti-blackness ideologies.”
Vassilios Papadopoulos, the Interim dean of the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, attempted to clarify the situation, telling Fox News that USC “is joining other universities in making this change.”
“Because the Office is not an academic department, its name change was not subject to a formal review process,” the interim dean said. “The university does not maintain a list of ‘banned’ or discouraged words.”
“As an institution of higher education, we will continue to use words — including the word ‘field’ — that accurately encompass and describe our work and research, while also continuing our efforts to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all,” Papadopoulos added.
USC is not the only school to raise eyebrows over claiming that certain mundane words are “racist” and suggesting their replacements.
Last month, Stanford University became a national laughingstock after its IT Department published an “Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative,” which labeled certain words and phrases “racist,” “violent,” “ableist,” and “culturally appropriative,” among other pejoratives.
In one example, the word “American” was deemed harmful, with Stanford’s IT Department suggesting that “U.S. citizen” be used in its place.