Yale University may soon formally replace the term “freshman” with “first-year student” in an effort to “reflect the values” of the institution.
According to the The Yale Daily News, administrators are in favor of the more-inclusive alternative, though there is no clear timeline for when the official change will actually be made.
Dean of Student Affairs Camille Lizarríbar, who has been at the forefront of the conversation surrounding the change, explained that she hopes the switch will be made “before the next academic year.”
“I think there comes a time when you want to make sure that the way you’re calling things reflects the values that you have,” she elaborated, suggesting that if Yale “is serious about inclusivity and diversity,” it must consider every idea, including unorthodox ideas.
“It’s not written in stone that it has to be ‘freshman’…we do have some agency in what we call things,” she added, noting that several peer institutions including Dartmouth College, Cornell University, and Amherst College have already adopted gender-inclusive alternatives to the traditional designation.
Jonathan Holloway, the dean of Yale College, credited Holloway with reinvigorating the notion since taking over the deanship just over a year ago, but told the Daily News that he has long fielded complaints from students and parents concerned about the gender-specificity that the word “freshman” implies.
“I will confess it’s not something I spent a lot of time thinking about, recognizing yes, it’s an antiquated term, but it just wasn’t part of my daily routine [of] thinking about what things need to be taken care of,” Holloway remarked. “But Dean Lizarríbar, who oversees freshman or first-year orientation…basically said ‘it’s time,’ and I have no problem with that.”
Yale is far from alone in its pursuit of inclusive language, as evidenced by the 15 schools that earned a spot in Campus Reform’s “PC Madness Bracket” for their efforts to stamp out “non-inclusive” language such as “masculine” terminology and “biased” remarks.
At Bates College, for instance, Campus Reform reported that a guide has been produced for faculty on “creating an inclusive classroom environment” that advises the use of “partner” in place of “husband or wife,” lest the comment offend someone whose spouse is neither a husband nor a wife.
Bethel University, meanwhile, is encouraging its faculty “to be clear in [their] Christian witness” by eschewing masculine terminology, telling employees that their Christian faith and the Bible compel them to eschew the use of terms like “mankind” as a synonym for “humanity.”
At Appalachian State University, on the other hand, Campus Reform discovered that the school’s Writing Center has been advising students to include disclaimers on academic papers indicating that they are using gender-neutral pronouns in an effort “to be inclusive.”
Among the most interesting examples, however, is a guide produced by the University of Arkansasasking students to avoid referring to millennials as “lazier than previous generations” because such “phrasing” could be “seen as offensive” or even “biased.”
A more appropriate phrasing, the guide suggests, would be to state that millennials simply “have a different idea of the value of work than other generations.”