The “P.C. movement,” as it is often referred to, has sparked debate and controversy in the United States and has become one of the most talked about issues for government officials and the working class alike.

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, political correctness is defined as “conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated.”

However, the term “political correctness” actually goes back much further than many people might guess.

According to a survey conducted in June and July of 2016 by the PEW Research Center, 21 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of Democrats agreed with the following statement: “People need to be more careful with language to avoid offending others.”

According to another PEW Research Center survey done during June and July of 2016, only 38 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 agree that “People need to be more careful with their language to avoid offending others.”

Its roots lie in a version of Marxism which sees culture, rather than the economy, as the site of class struggle, according to The Free Congress Foundation. It has evolved since then into the contemporary P.C. culture that many people are familiar with today.

The foundation also says the actual debate about political correctness stems from partisan standards. The majority of conservatives believe that having to be P.C. is a threat to the First Amendment right of free speech. Their liberal counterparts claim the P.C. movement aims to abolish ways of thinking that might discriminate against or marginalize a certain group of people.

The issue is especially prevalent on college campuses as more and more administrators across the country are instituting so-called “safe space” rules.

At Ball State, several safe space services are made available to students every year, such as Safe Zone, which provides support to members of the LGBTQ community, and Kaleidoscope, which is a support group for ethnic and racial minority students.

Some Ball State students themselves are divided on the issue.

“I think [political correctness] is necessary because it's difficult to address people in a way that is comfortable when most terms could be offensive to them,” said freshman criminal justice and criminology major Anna Swarts.

Freshman telecommunications major Blake Coons said he believes the movement is not helpful.

“Political correctness is unnecessary as it deviates our attention away from the real issue at hand, and more towards trying to figure out how to communicate it without offending someone,” he said.

According to another PEW Research Center survey done during June and July of 2016, only 38 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 agree that “People need to be more careful with their language to avoid offending others.”

As it relates to the 2016 presidential election, the candidates are divided as well.

“I’ve been challenged by so many people and I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either,” said Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during the first GOP presidential debate on Aug. 6, 2015.

Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson has been known to take the side of political correctness, particularly in matters relating to illegal immigration.

In an interview with political editor Guy Benson last month, Johnson said, “If you use the term ‘illegal immigrants,’ that is very incendiary to our Hispanic population here in this country … What Donald Trump is saying regarding immigration could not be more incendiary. It is insulting to me, coming from New Mexico.”

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has also incorporated a P.C. mindset into her campaign, and even went so far as to apologize for using the term “illegal immigrants” at a Facebook question-and-answer session held by Telemundo back in November 2015.

Demographer Neil Howe detailed the rise and trend of political correctness as it relates to the millennial generation, and where it might be in the future in a November 2015 article published by Forbes magazine.

“We see it as a sign of something else: a demographic changing-of-the-guard that has been approaching ever since the first millennials came of age — one that will set the tone in any public arena for years to come,” he said. “What a difference a generation makes.”