Several students at Yale University have reportedly left campus due to the school’s use of the word “master,” a “racist” term according to professor Stephen Davis.
Davis, whose current title is “Master of Pierson College,” officially called for a ban on the word Friday due to “the racial and gendered weight it carries.”
“I have found the title of the office I hold deeply problematic given the racial and gendered weight it carries,” Davis said. “I think there should be no context in our society or in our university in which an African-American student, professor, or staff member—or any person, for that matter—should be asked to call anyone ‘master.’ And there should be no context where male-gendered titles should be normalized as markers of authority.”
As explained by the Daily Caller, the term has long been used by Yale to describe leaders in the university’s 12 residential colleges.
“Yale organizes its undergraduate students into one of 12 different residential colleges, which are a core feature of daily life at the school,” the Daily Caller’s Blake Neff writes. “Besides having their own dormitories, each residential college also has a separate dining facility and library, and can organize its own special events. Additionally, each college has a master, typically drawn from the school’s faculty, who lives in a special house allotted to them on campus.”
Davis went on to claim that several students were so damaged by the mere utterance of the word that they were forced to leave their dormitories and live off campus.
“I have heard stories and witnessed situations involving members of our community who have felt viscerally marginalized by this linguistic practice: students who have felt it necessary to move off campus their junior or senior year to avoid a system where the title ‘master’ is valorized; faculty members who cringe at this aspect of our college culture; tea guests who perform subtle and dexterous verbal gymnastics to avoid having to say the name,” stated Davis.
The attempted ban is reminiscent of several other campaigns including the Seattle government’s infamous call for ending the term “brown bag.”