The University of Michigan is hoping to "foster inclusiveness" with its latest decision to allow students to choose the personal pronouns they would like faculty and staff to use when talking to them.
The campus directory is giving students the option to be referred to as "he," "she" or "ze," a recently developed pronoun intended to be completely gender neutral.
"A designated personal pronoun is a pronoun an individual chooses to identify with and expects others to use when referencing them (he, she, him, his, ze, etc.)," the university wrote in an email obtained first by the Detroit Free Press.
The final decision was made by the university's Pronoun Committee, which determined that "asking about and correctly using someone’s designated pronoun is one of the most basic ways to show respect for their identity and to cultivate an environment that respects all gender identities."
According to the Free Press, the students' pronoun choices will automatically appear on their class rosters so faculty members can immediately begin integrating them.
"Faculty members play a vital role in ensuring all of our community feels valued, respected and included," the memo reads. "Given that this process is new, we ask that faculty members review their rosters again in mid- to late October to give students time to designate their pronouns."
Naturally, there is a chance some professors could slip up and mistakenly refer to someone by a pronoun they oppose. If that happens, instructors are expected to "acknowledge that you made a mistake and use the correct pronoun next time." The faculty members will not be punished, a university spokesperson told HeatStreet, unless a "persistent pattern of ignoring a student’s preference" emerges.
(H/T: Law Newz)
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