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Yale administrators consider replacing ‘freshman’ with gender-neutral term ‘first-year’

Since apparently there is nothing more pressing than stressing over “proper” language, administrators at Yale are pondering eliminating the term “freshman” and replacing it with non-gendered “first-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,” said Dean of Student Affairs Camille Lizarríbar, who is “leading the conversation” on the issue.

The Yale Daily News reports Lizarríbar said college officials have been considering the change for some time now, adding that other Ivy League schools have already made the switch.

Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway said that “for as long as he can remember” students and parents have expressed “frustrations” over the gender-specific nature of “freshman.”

But of course. It’s Yale.

From the article:

According to Holloway, the conversation over replacing the term has picked up steam recently due to Lizarríbar, who recently celebrated her one-year anniversary in the deanship.

“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 said. “But Dean Lizarríbar, who oversees freshman or first-year orientation … basically said ‘it’s time,’ and I have no problem with that.”

Students interviewed expressed mixed reactions to the potential change. Some said they saw the change as a necessary step toward greater gender inclusivity on campus, while others argued that the word “freshman” bears little significance to students, and replacing it would not solve problems of gender bias. …

MORE: Defense Dept. falls prey to campus-style ‘gender-neutral’ PC

Isaac Amend ’17, a member of Trans@Yale — a community for nonbinary and transgender students — said that while he does not think that the term “freshman” has a negative emotional impact on students, replacing it with “first-year” would be a positive symbolic move. …

Amend, a staff columnist for the News, added that the change is particularly important under the current federal administration, which he called toxic to transgender students in an earlier interview. Earlier this month, President Donald Trump rescinded Obama-era federal guidelines specifying that transgender students have the right to use public school restrooms that match their gender identity.

Is it any surprise that Ms. Lizarríbar somehow has the time to contemplate a matter of such “import,” and that regarding such Mr. Amend managed to invoke the name of Donald Trump?

Read the full story.

MORE: Growing # of universities embrace gender-neutral pronouns ‘ze,’ ‘hirs’ and ‘theirs’

MORE: ‘Conscious Style Guide’ teaches students, educators how to use inclusive language

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.