UAF Faculty Senate says ‘no more freshmen’

Zach Sherman / Sun Star

The Faculty Senate resolved on Feb. 8 to recommend all language referring to freshman be changed to “first year or first-year.”

The current title, freshman, is viewed as being nongender inclusive by titling male, female and nongender conforming students under a term that uses “man” as a root of the word. If implemented, the change would affect official university publications, websites and any oral and written statements by University officials.

According to the resolution posted on the Faculty Senate website, the Senate is committed to “establish and maintain a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students regardless of gender.”

The motion reads: “The University continues to use the terms, ‘freshman’ and ‘freshmen,’ on official websites and other publications although these have long been recognized as being non-inclusive, sexist terms.”

Major schools across the country have made this change for a more inclusive term.

The University of North Carolina made the policy switch in 2009. The change garnered little attention until 2012 when the Huffington Post called it “political correctness gone too far.”

In 2014 Elon, a small private liberal arts college in North Carolina, joined the ranks of schools removing the terms. Elon too received negative media attention for the change, but has maintained their position.

The trend is larger than just universities.  Many states have made the change within their language as well. Washington State, Florida, North Carolina and Illinois have all made the change at the governmental level, according to Claudine Zap of Yahoo News.

A brief search of the Florida State University website showed that freshman was still the official title used.  Illinois State also showed that while the state’s government had made the switch, the state’s university had not.  Washington State University did show that almost all instances of the term freshman had been removed. The few remaining were either addressing the change to first year, or in names of clubs and student organizations that still used the term.

“Statewide also is behind the times in its failure to use non-sexist language. By passing this resolution, UAF Faculty Senate can help the entire University of Alaska to become more inclusive in this use of language,” the Faculty Senate wrote in the resolution.

Student perspectives varied on the decision.

“While I appreciate the sentiment as good, I don’t feel that freshman is a sexist term in modern usage,” Andrea Knowles, a first year student at UAF studying emergency medicine, said.  “I would want to know how much work and money it would take to make these changes and where else that money could be used.”

“Any move towards inclusivity is a good thing,” Stephen Greenlaw, a UAF senior studying fisheries, said.  “While it is a low hanging fruit, it is a start.”

The resolution will still need to be approved by the chancellor’s office prior to becoming policy at UAF.

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23 Responses

  1. Micheal Ives says:

    Makes sports commentating interesting…and confusing.

    “Nice bucket there from ‘first-year’ Nanooks point guard Joe Hooper.”

    “That is a mighty fierce beard for such a youngster, Mike!”

    “He’s 26, Dan. He’s a transfer student from Oregon JC, but it’s his first year as a Nanook point guard.”

    “So he’s not a freshman?”

    “Dang it, Dan! Now we’re dealing with a UA lawsuit!”

    End scene

  2. Sine Anahita says:

    I am the writer of the resolution, which was proposed by the Faculty Senate Committee on the Status of Women. The resolution applies only to *official* university publications and speech. There should be no significant cost to the University, as websites and publications are constantly being updated. The Registrar’s Office has already partially implemented the change when it changed the name of the “Freshman Progress Report” that was due last week. Over the years, Americans have gotten used to the terms fire fighter instead of fireman, police officer instead of policeman, and chair instead of chairman. But it will be interesting to see if there is the kind of blowback at UAF that there were at the other universities that instituted non-sexist language. Thanks for a good article, Sun-Star.

  3. Traci says:

    I’ve about had it with what you people spend your time on with the hard earned money I make to pay your wages. Nobody cares being called a freshman! This political correct crap is destroying our identity as a country and I hold liberal educators responsible. If I could sue you to stop this nonsense, I would.

  4. Courtney Lauer says:

    Are we going to stop calling ourselves ‘human’, too?

  5. Travis Olexa says:

    We can barely afford to finish buildings, cutting majors left and right, and we have completely undrinkable water. But THIS right here is the thing that needs to be resolved first. What a waste of time and effort.

    I’m glad I’m graduating this year and getting out of this ever increasingly PC shit-hole.

  6. Chris says:

    I personally view this as a waste of resources and a step in the wrong direction. This makes more of a mockery out of political correctness than already exists. Is this really the battle that needs to be fought for equality? Next are we to stop using the term woman or female since both have a “masculine” term as the root?

  7. Theodora Isaurios says:

    Once again, academics providing another reason why maybe having some experience working in the real world before sitting in your “intellectual” bubble is a good idea. One person (most likely) being offended for people that don’t exist, to waste faculty time and money to make changes that nobody wants for reasons nobody cares about.

    “College – where instead of learning how to think, you learn what to think”

    10/10 would go 50,000 dollars in to debt again.

  8. Angela says:

    Is this really what we’re spending our time on? In the midst of a budget crisis no less. I feel like the faculty senate has the power to enact real change for students as well as for employees and yet this is what we went with? There is plenty to do and so many complaints echoing across campus about fees, tuition, and actual equality issues. Never once have I heard someone say “hold up freshMAN how dare they refer to me that way I’m not a man.” i believe the faculty senate, as well as the student body have more important things to be spending time, and resources on then this. How about the SunStar do an article on the top cost saving ideas for the university.
    An Overpaying huMAN student

  9. I will accept this title on one condition:

    Only if you place a talking sorting hat on my head that tells me what my house will be during my time at UAF-warts.

  10. Jennifer says:

    You all have lost your freaking minds!
    Keep catering to dividing of Americans while pretending to unite them. This is nonsense.

  11. Anyeah says:

    Don’t we have bigger things to worry about, in all honesty.

  12. Pat says:

    It would be helpful to write how much money this will cost. Down with political correctness. Our professors should spend more time educating than implementing their political agenda.

  13. Naomi says:

    I’d like to see it applied more broadly, not just to one word. Sexist language in general shouldn’t be used.

  14. Chanelle Brown says:

    It’s beautiful to see inclusivity at UAF!

  15. Lisa Murphy says:

    What a joke. When read about things like this I cannot believe how whiny and insecure they make women seem.

    Or should we say females? No, wait… um WoFirsts?

    I think Thomas Sowell said it best, “It is amazing how many of those who consider themselves “thinking people” respond automatically to words the way Pavlov’s dog was conditioned to respond to certain sounds.”

  16. LISA says:

    This gives a whole new meaning to GET A LIFE PEOPLE!

  17. really? says:

    UNC made the change in 09 eh? Funny, their athletics website makes a lot of mentions of “Freshmen”

  18. Enough says:

    Sine, you are very privileged as I read your blog. Very privileged, how’s about you share some of your wealth and privilege instead of lazy liberalism you know banning words.

    Freshman Freshman Freshman Freshman Freshman.

    It’s always the rich liberals like Sine here who boats of living up in the beautiful woods with a picture of her playing violin that pull this crap.

    Most students can’t afford violin lessons and living in a nice place in the woods.

    Vote for the right person this year so we can kick these privileged liberal morons to the curb.

    This needs to be contaminated and radiated like cancer, you really want our kids living under hypocrites like Sine and her fiddle?

  19. Muh triggers says:

    What ever happened to “sticks and stones”? I really wish these outrage artist would drink the punch already.

  20. Dean Jay says:

    Clearly third year students can also no longer be called Juniors as one of the definitions of that word is “…used chiefly to distinguish a son with the same given name as his father.” Wouldn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.

  21. Sanity Check says:

    Regarding funds, if $5 was spent to provide coffe for a meeting on this topic, it was too much. The hours of wasted production from staff members forced to sit through it also has a monetary value. How about we invest money in teaching our whiny college students to adapt and overcome adversity rather than running for their safe space.

  22. Jonathan says:

    You should ban the term woman too because it implies that a woman is a wo-man

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