At Columbia University, an Ivy League institution, a medical school has recently created “Guidelines for Promoting an Anti-Bias and Inclusive Curriculum.” As part of these “Guidelines,” the term “Caucasian” has apparently been determined to be offense to various individuals, which is why the word “Caucasian” will apparently be removed from usage.
The medical school, also known as the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, details how these guidelines will presumably counter “systemic bias” and “systemic racism” throughout the university. The college also claims that these “systemic” issues apparently “decrease [the school’s] ability to provide equitable medical care,” as well as “increase inclusion” within the Columbia University community.
These guidelines call for removing “imprecise” or “outdated” words and phrases; for instance, the word “Oriental” is no longer acceptable for denoting someone with an Asian background, whereas “Caucasian” is no longer acceptable for describing “a white person.” Instead, more precise terms apparently must be used.
The guidelines pushed by Columbia University also provide a link to “Time to Phase Out ‘Caucasian,'” an article published by Andrea Westby in 2020. Westby, who is an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, claims that the word “Caucasian” is “literally speaking” about groups of individuals who originate from the Caucasus Mountains, including individuals from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and various parts of Central Southern Russia and Northern Iran.
Westby also claims that the use of the word “Caucasian” to identify white people must be abolished, given that this word presumably focuses on “prioritizing the comfort of white people.” According to Westby, white people apparently feel “uncomfortable” being labeled as “white,” which purportedly means that the removal of the word “Caucasian” constitutes a form of an “antiracist action.”
Westby also rambled on about the importance of considering the “effects” and “implications,” of language that is commonly used. In terms of the word “Caucasian,” Westby claims that using the word “indiscriminately,” or when it is “not rooted in historical context,” can apparently “[obstruct] antiracist discourse.”
When Campus Reform contacted Westby for comment, she argued that “Caucasian” is “geographically inaccurate” and “historically inaccurate,” and she prefers terminology that includes “specific geographically correct ancestry terms.” In other words, “Euro-American” is apparently acceptable to Westby.
Columbia University’s actions are not the first taken by a university with regards to the word “Caucasian.” Back in 2014, Susan Rinderle, who happens to be a consultant cited by Westby, claimed that the word “Caucasian” is merely designed “to create distance from race discussion or racial identification.”
At the time of this writing, the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, as well as Rinderle, had not responded to requests for comment.