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.