Students Forbidden From Using Term ‘Illegal Immigrants’ by Instructor

University instructor threatens failing grades for using 'slur'

Image Credits: Douglas Green / Wikimedia Commons.

A University of Florida instructor implied students in an Intro to Cultural Anthropology course could receive failing grades if they used ‘disrespectful’ terms such as ‘illegal immigrants’ or ‘illegal aliens,’ according to reports.

Course documents secured by Campus Reform reveal that students were warned by instructor Max van Oostenburg against using common phrases related to illegal immigration, and that consequences for doing so could be stiff.

For one assignment, students were asked to address discussion points pertaining to ‘irregular migration,’ ‘globalization,’ and ‘ethnography.’

“Please be sure to participate to this discussion in a respectful way,” van Oostenburg wrote. “I ask you not to use terms like ‘illegal immigrants,’ ‘illegal aliens,’ and ‘the illegals.’”

Van Oostenburg also linked to a 2012 CNN article titled, “Why ‘illegal immigrant’ is a slur.”

“When you label someone an ‘illegal alien’ or ‘illegal immigrant’ or just plain ‘illegal,’ you are effectively saying the individual, as opposed to the actions the person has taken, is unlawful,” the article claims. “The terms imply the very existence of an unauthorized migrant in America is criminal.”

“The term ‘illegal immigrant’ was first used in 1939 as a slur by the British toward Jews who were fleeing the Nazis and entering Palestine without authorization.”

A copy of the course syllabus was also obtained by Campus Reform, and the repercussions for offending van Oostenburg are clear.

“You will receive 0 points if your posts are disrespectful, offensive, or contains racial/ethnic slurs,” the syllabus warns.

The phrase “illegal alien” is formal term still used by the United States government to describe foreign nationals illegally present in the U.S.

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Dan Lyman: