Smith College Drops Use Of Word “Field” As Racially Insensitive
Smith College has always been woke to the point of insomnia. Now, however, it has embraced an “anti-racism reform” that even some on the left call looney. As discussed in a prior column on the same reform implemented at the University of Southern California, Smith has removed the word “field” from its social work program as racist. The reason? It reminds some of the field work of slaves.
The department formerly known as the “Office of Field Education” will be now referred to as the “Office of Practicum.” Carolyn McDaniel, a spokesperson for Smith College, explained that this change is “consistent with the guiding principles of the social work profession, Smith College’s School for Social Work strives for intentional accountability.”
McDaniels added “rather than a reactive moment, this is a proactive decision to bring the language of the school’s program more in line with its goals and intentions.”This is all part of Smith Colleges plan titled Toward Racial Justice in “advancing inclusion, diversity and equity” at the school. Using terms like “field work” is now considered triggering and microaggressive.
At USC, the school explained:
“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…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.”
The school heralded its replacement of the word “field” as another triumph in the fight for “dismantling oppressive and discriminating systems.”
Neither Smith nor USC is saying that the word is racist. They are saying that some may be reminded that slaves worked in fields. It does not matter that the word is not being used in even a remotely racist way. Rather than expect students to understand how words are used, it is better to ban them.
We faced the same type of logic at George Washington University when the school dropped the long moniker of “The Colonials.” I have previously wrote about my opposition to the dropping of “The Colonials.” The university assembled a committee that seemed pre-disposed to drop the name after objections that, in my view, were historically and logically wrong. That followed an earlier panel that lacked any opposing views on the matter.
Now the school has adopted “The Revolutionaries” — a moniker that has greater appeal for many at the school but will likely be as usable in a sports context as the “Confectionaries.” Rather than expect students to know that our “Colonials” fought a war against an Empire and colonization, the school decided to drop the beloved moniker because some dismissed the actual reference and meaning. After all, a university can hardly be expected to stand on the meaning and history of language as an educational institution. The key is that when “The Revolutionaries” go to practice, they may want to avoid going to the “field” as opposed to “practicum place.”
It is that simple. The important thing is to believe . . . just like they said in the movie “Practicum of Dreams.”