As DDF noted in a previous post, the subhead of the Record article editorializing in favor of affinity housing read:

Creating space for minoritized students

This is also the same language used in the CARE Now petition:

We demand increased support and safety for minoritized students on campus, which include students with disabilities, students of color, low-income students, queer students.

I suspect similarly to David that the intent of this word is to demonstrate this identity is something imposed upon the individual. It echoes the view that all ideas and language were socially constructed by those in power (probably the white man) to further establish that power hierarchy. This social constructivism thesis has a few important steps. It first presupposes that these ideas and identities are socially constructed (this is trivial; almost everything is socially constructed), then moves to claim that this construction serves external some purpose. Philosopher of science Ian Hacking handily describes this as a construction’s “extra-theoretical function.” In the case of “minority,” the word is perceived to have some purpose outside of its perceived meaning–namely, to assert power over the groups it describes. The notion of purpose, however, necessarily presupposes that there is an architect behind this construction, since purpose requires a rational agent. This is how we move from the fairly modest claim that the “minority” identity is, at least in part, socially constructed, to the claim that these identities were constructed by privileged parties to assert their power. Hence comes the need to reinvent the word “minority” to reflect its “true” significance as an identity forced upon a group.

The problem with the social constructivism thesis that, as I see it, lies behind this change in lexicon, is that it makes an unwarranted jump from acknowledging that ideas are in part socially molded to assuming that they were intentionally forged this way by malevolent beings of power. Is it not possible that the word “minority” serves the objective, mathematical purpose of describing a group that represents a small percentage of a population? It is absurd to subvert objective language used to assert mathematical facts with biased sociological analyses.

Perhaps this has all been a little tangential to most events on campus. Though confusing, it is ultimately not a problem if a group of students sometimes chooses to use a fancy invented word over a commonplace one. What is a problem is that these students embed a narrative into the semantics of every conversation they have, fundamentally redefining the logical playing field in which these discussions occur. This is a narrative of the oppressor and the oppressed, of the good and the bad. Choosing not to adopt this language may be perceived as insensitive and even unacademic, but ultimately it is an issue of supreme ideological importance.

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