FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – A Northern Arizona University professor received threatening calls and emails after a story about a battle over the use of the word “mankind” made national news.
NAU Police presence was heavy through the hallways of the liberal arts building after a professor received hateful messages for docking one of her students a point because she used the word “mankind” in her essay.
English Professor Anne Scott said she presented her students with a rubric at the start of her course, explaining they were not to use language that was not gender neutral. She said this was part of the Modern Language Association (MLA) guidelines.
The fourth edition of NAU’s Writing Style Guide calls for “inclusive” writing and directs NAU students to use gender neutral terms to “avoid sexism.” “Mankind” is on the list of words to avoid and students are asked to use the more inclusive “humanity” instead.
Freshman Cailin Jeffers didn’t find the word “mankind” offensive, so she decided to use the word in her essay.
“Yeah, I did kind of decide to test out the rule to see if she would mark me down and she did,” Jeffers said.
The story was shared by news outlets around the world and is all over social media. Jeffers said she wasn’t looking for all this attention.
“I find it very immature. I don’t think anyone should be sending my professor or anyone else hate mail,” Jeffers said.
The professor said she and the English department have received dozens of calls and hundreds of emails, one of those telling Scott to, “Get off the face of the earth. Go put a gun to [her] head.
“I’m not sure knows what the backlash has been and how damaging her actions have been,” Scott said.
NAU Police have asked the professor and English department to hang on to any emails and messages they’ve received in case there is a need for an investigation.