Inclusive Language within Stonehill College Policy Materials

Last Updated 10/8/2021

Stonehill College is committed to inclusive excellence, which extends to the language used in its written policy materials. To the extent possible, Divisions are asked to incorporate into all policy materials the inclusive language best practices set forth and available below. The OGC recognizes that there are many ways to classify groups, and that different terminology may be appropriate in certain contexts. Particularly with respect to policies, however, we ask that every effort be made to use the language set forth below.

Please let us know if there is a specific context in which a different term seems to be needed.


When referring to people with disabilities, emphasize the person first and then the disability. For example, use the term “person with a disability,” not “disabled person” or “handicapped person.” Use “accessible parking,” rather than “handicapped parking”.  For further guidance, please consult the National Center on Disability and Journalism style-guide.

Ethnic and Racial Designations

Native American: The OGC recognizes that there is continued and evolving discussion on such terminology. Generally, the OGC currently recommends the following: Indigenous refers to those peoples who were living together as a community prior to contact with settler populations. First Nations and Indigenous Peoples refers to a group of Indigenous with a shared national identity. Native American is used to refer to peoples living within what is now the United States prior to European contact. American Indian is a legal term used under Federal Indian Law and also used in some documents maintained by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. Whenever possible, it is most accurate to use the name of an individual’s particular Indigenous community or nation of people; for example: Wampanoag, Mohegan, Narragansett. Updated information.

Latino/a/x: Refers to someone of Latin American origin. Hispanic: Refers to someone of Spanish-speaking origin. Spanish: Refers to someone who is from Spain.  For additional information, OGC recommends the following article: Understanding Latinx College Student Diversity and Why It Matters.     

Black: An individual with ancestral ties to the African continent who may have generations of American ancestors.  African American: Refers to someone of African origin. There is a wealth of information available on this topic; for a brief overview, the OGC recommends the article: What’s in a Name? Preference for “Black” Versus “African-American” Among Americans of African Descent.

Asian American: Refers to someone of Asian origin.  This is a diverse population with ancestral origins in South Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. While the OGC recognizes that there are limitations with any term and that there is continuing evolution of terminology, for the purposes of policy and documentation review, OGC recommends use of the term Asian American. For additional information, the OGC recommends the following article: After 50 years of ‘Asian American,’ advocates say the term is ‘more essential than ever’.

When referring to race, use lowercase black and white.

Use “historically underrepresented groups” or “people of color” instead of “minorities.”

Do not use a hyphen in ethnic classifications, such as African American or Filipino American.

Personal Pronouns and Gender-Inclusive Language

OGC recommends the use of the singular “they” as opposed to gender specific pronouns. The singular “they” has been endorsed within the AP Style Guide, and the OGC endorses its use as a reflection of a commitment to inclusivity.

For a discussion of the use of the singular “they,” OGC recommends the following articles:

Additionally, there are a number of ways to avoid using a gender-specific pronoun:

  • Recast the sentence and make the subject and object plural.
  • Omit the pronoun or use an article (e.g., the, a) instead of a pronoun.
  • Use the neutral pronoun “one.”

The OGC recommends review of the Stonehill College Office of Intercultural Affairs Language and Pronoun website when editing policies.