Paul L. Caron

Friday, February 21, 2020

NY Times: Harvard, 38 Other Colleges Allow Students To Indicate Their Pronouns On Course Rosters

New York Times, Gender Pronouns Can Be Tricky on Campus. Harvard Is Making Them Stick.:

Pronouns 2For generations of future diplomats and cabinet officials educated at Harvard’s renowned John F. Kennedy School of Government, orientation day has come with a name placard that the students carry from class to class, so their professors can easily call on them.

When Diego Garcia Blum, 30, got his placard last fall, the first-year graduate student immediately took a Sharpie to it, writing “He/Him” next to the big block letters of his name. Other students did the same thing, writing “She/Her” and “They/Them.”

“Yup! Day 1,” Mr. Garcia Blum, recalled, adding, “That’s when I thought, the students are ahead of the school.”

But despite its reputation as a bastion of the establishment, the Kennedy School followed the students’ lead, agreeing to provide clear plastic stickers this semester with four pronoun options that students could apply to their name cards: “He/Him,” “She/Her,” “They/Them” and “Ze/Hir.” ...

Last week New York University said students would now be able to indicate their pronouns in the system that provides class rosters and seating charts to faculty members. At least 39 other schools allow students to indicate their pronouns on course rosters, according to a national clearinghouse maintained by the director of the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Stonewall Center.

Skylar L. Spear, a first-year law student at New York University who is transgender and nonbinary, said the ability to enter pronouns when registering for classes would remove some of the obstacles that students face.

In the past, Spear, 24, has emailed professors in advance to say that their pronouns are they/them. One professor maintained a tradition of addressing students by last names and an honorific like “Mr.” or “Miss.” Spear asked the professor to refer to them by their last name, without any honorific. ...

For professors who are used to wielding broad authority in their classrooms, and who often bristle at being told to change their ways, the evolving use of pronouns can sometimes be a power struggle. The University of Minnesota’s faculty senate approved a pronoun policy in December, but only after three years of debate. ...

Some colleges suggest that professors introduce themselves by their pronouns on the first day of class, as a kind of bonding exercise and an implicit invitation for students to volunteer their own pronouns. Professors say they feel strong pressure to comply and fear receiving bad student ratings if they don’t. ...

Recent research indicates that social affirmation, including the use of chosen names and proper pronouns, can help reduce the higher rates of depression and suicide for transgender and nonbinary young people, which stem in part from a lack of acceptance and frequent harassment.

Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink


In Japan, excessive use of pronouns is considered rude, altogether. Maybe that’s a better system.

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Feb 21, 2020 1:59:12 AM