[lg policy] New York: CUNY Graduate Center becomes first school to instate gender-inclusive language policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Tue Feb 10 16:19:19 UTC 2015


CUNY Graduate Center becomes first school to instate gender-inclusive
language policy By Alexandra Bolles, Communications Manager
<http://www.glaad.org/blog/alexandrabolles> |
February 9, 2015

The Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) has
officially announced a new policy that calls for students to be addressed
in correspondence by their names, rather than with terms, like "Ms." or
"Mr.", that assume the student's preferred gender pronouns.

Though the policy refers specifically to written interactions, and is not
mandated but rather suggested, faculty are encouraged to apply far and wide
with the school's 5,000 students. It has gone into effect at the start of
this current semester. The school is thought to be the first to implement
such a policy, meant to show inclusivity and respect to the diversity of
gender identities.

The policy has been met with mixed reactions by the staff, with some
advocating for a policy that is both gender-inclusive and
culturally-sensitive, others applauding the effort as evolving with the
times. Joseph Borelli, a Republican state Assemblyman and a professor at
CUNY's College of Staten Island (where the policy is not in place), derided
it as "another ultra PC policy change," and likened it to students asking
to be called "'Godzilla' or whatever."

While some in the media have expressed concern that CUNY Graduate Center is
violating tradition, etiquette expert Anna Post (who is the
great-granddaughter of the iconic Emily Post), spoke well of the effort,
<http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/cuny-bans-mr-ms-correspondence-article-1.2098225>
saying, "Nobody likes assumptions being made about them."

CUNY Graduate Center sociology professor Erica Chito Childs told the New
York Daily News
<http://www.glaad.org/blog/I%20think%20their%20heart%20is%20in%20the%20right%20place,%22%20said%20etiquette%20expert%20Anna%20Post,%20great-great-granddaughter%20of%20Emily%20Post.%20%22Nobody%20likes%20assumptions%20being%20made%20about%20them.>
that the encouraged approach is good for everyone. "I think this decision
is groundbreaking," she said. "[Using salutations] relies on old notions of
being attached to your marital status, [whereas CUNY's decision], "allows
us to interact with others as individuals."

Numerous outlets have reported the policy is a Title IX-related mandate
that disciplines faculty who do not comply, the school itself has clarified
those assumptions are false. According to the Huffington Post
<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/28/cuny-mr-ms_n_6559250.html>, this
is just one effort the school is making to respect students' identities and
foster a safer, more constructive learning environment:

The Graduate Center told The Huffington Post that the memo was actually
aimed at advising faculty about the school's new preferred-name policy,
which allows students to go by a moniker other than their legal name on
certain university documents such as course rosters, student identification
cards and student email addresses. The students simply have to fill out a
form
<http://www.gc.cuny.edu/CUNY_GC/media/CUNY-Graduate-Center/PDF/Registrar/PREFERRED-NAME-REQUEST-FORM.pdf>
.

The same week that the Graduate Center announced the language policy,
CUNY's Hunter College (Audre Lorde's alma mater) upgraded its Women and
Gender Studies program to a full-fledged department. Though the media has
been widely critical of the changes at CUNY, students and graduates have
taken to social media to contribute positively to the
conversation.

http://www.glaad.org/blog/cuny-graduate-center-becomes-first-school-instate-gender-inclusive-language-policy

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