‘Freshmen’ and ‘Upperclassmen’ Ushered off Penn State Campus

Image via drocpsu, Creative Commons.

In a bid to improve its inclusivity, Penn State has approved a proposition to remove gendered and binary terms from the university’s course and program descriptions, according to a report from CBS Philly.

These include references to “freshmen” and “upperclassmen.”

Proposition AD84 Preferred Name and Gender Identity Policy was approved by Penn State’s Faculty Senate on April 27.

The proposition recommended that the terms freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior should be changed to first-year, second-year, third-year, fourth-year, and beyond. It also recommended to change the terms “underclassmen” and “upperclassmen” with “lower division” and “upper division.”

The proposition characterized the traditional references as having a strong, male-centric, binary character that can be interpreted as both sexist and classist. Meanwhile, terms like “junior” and “senior” are linked to eastern male father-son naming conventions.

The university has “grown out of a typically male-centered world,” stated the proposition.

It was also recommended to move away from the use of gendered pronouns when referring to students, faculty, staff, and guests in all written materials in favor of nongendered terms such as student, faculty member, etc.

It is not yet known when these changes will be implemented.

Read more about the decision at CBS Philly.


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