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Faculty Senate Passes Removal Of Gendered & Binary Terms From Course, Program Descriptions

Penn State’s Faculty Senate voted last week to remove gendered and binary terms from the university’s course and program descriptions.

The group voted 125-13 to enact the proposal, which follows the implementation of the AD84 – Preferred Name and Gender Identity Policy that allows students and faculty to establish their preferred name and/or gender identity into Penn State’s information systems.

Removing gendered pronouns in descriptions means replacing he/him/his and she/her/hers with they/them/theirs or non-gendered terms like student, faculty member, or staff member. Terms like freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior would be replaced with first-year, second-year, third-year, fourth-year, and so on. Super-seniors would also be referred to as either fifth-years or “advancing students.”

Changes to binary and gendered language will be made to the following written documentation: recruiting materials, admissions materials, scholarship information, housing materials, internal documents, and websites.

The Committee on Curricular Affairs proposed two specific recommendations for course and program descriptions: removing gendered pronouns when referring to students, faculty, staff, and guests, and removing male-centric academic group titles.

Certain exceptions would be made where binary and gendered terms need to remain, like in courses or degrees related to gender studies. The committee stated that it will clearly delineate between the “academic study” of gendered terms and the newly established terms that would apply to faculty, staff, students, and guests.

The Senate Committee on Curricular Affairs suggested that this implementation be an editorial change that doesn’t require Senate approval. The committee said a “streamlined implementation” will be established with the university’s Administrative Undergraduate Education Council (ACUE).

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Mackenzie is a junior majoring in English and is one of Onward State's associate editors. She is from Minersville, PA, and is always trying to explain exactly where that is. Send all compliments to [email protected] or @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.

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