Cardiff Met's Code of Practice and Guide to Inclusive Language, first produced in 2005, is not a governance document and is not a corporate policy. It encourages the use of inclusive language and, in its own words, "aims to raise awareness amongst staff and students of the importance of using appropriate language within the working and learning environment and also aims to promote a common sense approach to managing this". It makes no demands, bans nothing and carries no sanctions.
Academic freedom within the law is at the heart of vibrant debate and scholarly discourse at Cardiff Metropolitan University. It is embedded within the Articles of Government, explicit within the current Strategic Plan 2012-2017, and has been a key value that has influenced the preparation of the new Strategic Plan 2017-2022 that will be launched later this year. The University's Code of Practice on Freedom of Speech is also quite clear that free and open discussion is essential to help students develop lively, enquiring minds and the ability to question and argue rationally.
Through its Strategic Equality Plan 2016-20, Cardiff Met makes an unequivocal commitment to "providing an environment where everyone is valued as an individual, and where students and staff can work, learn, flourish and develop their skills and knowledge in an atmosphere of dignity and respect." To support the delivery of this commitment, the University has a joined-up approach to providing a positive working environment, free from discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
As part of this approach, the University has a Code of Practice on Using Inclusive Language, which sets out to promote fairness and equality by raising awareness about the effects of potentially discriminatory vocabulary. It makes suggestions for the avoidance of inappropriate generalisations and provides some illustrative examples of gender-laden vocabulary with some neutral alternatives.
Complaints about the excesses of so-called 'political correctness' and their impact on organisational cultures are not new. For Cardiff Met, though, academic freedom and the celebration of diversity are cornerstones of University life – and are entirely compatible with each other.