So there you are, in a normal conversation, using common language.
Hence, you throw out a persistent community favorite: the term “ombudsman.”
Then you realize — this isn’t early 2021; times have changed, and you must update your word choice.
Such could be the case if you’re in classes at the University of Pittsburgh.
Sadly, “ombudsman” may no longer be used.
An adjustment period will reasonably be expected.
In addition to expending effort on “ombudsman,” the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion’s created quite the list of syllables in need of sacking.
Also among them: “mankind,” “chairman,” and “freshman.”
The school’s online Resource on Gender-Inclusive Language lays it out: UP is “committed to supporting an inclusive and welcoming environment for all.”
“Have you ever been called by a name or gender that you don’t identify with?” the page inquires.
Misgendering someone is disrespectful and dismissive. One way to misgender is to assume you know someone’s gender via their appearance and to call them a name or pronoun that they don’t identify with. Misgendering can also occur when you teach as if your entire class is male. The best practice is to use words daily with intention and care.
The college is committed:
To avoid unintentionally creating a sexist and homophobic classroom environment, during discussions do not limit yourself to male examples or heterosexual examples. Teachers can and should honor the breadth of experience and potential in students’ lives by discussing women, gender non-conforming, and LGBT- identified people. For example, avoid giving examples that assume that all doctors are men.
If I adequately understand, professors should employ periodic instances such as this: “A homosexual nonbinary person hands five tickets for a rally on pronoun propriety to a demigendered pansexual. If zer already has 10 tickets, and if a neurodivergent individual who alternates between a transgender lesbian and a gender-dynamic kitten contributes three tickets as well, how many tickets do they/zer/bunself now have?”
In case I’m off, an official video helps out.
The clip touts UP’s “sense of belonging.”
“You know, college is a time when students are engaging with their pronouns,” a man points out.
“So it’s (an) important spot where we, you know, be the place where that kind of thing can happen.”
The guide issues instruction on using “gender-inclusive pronouns for third-person singular”:
Possessive Adjective: zir
Possessive Pronoun: zirs
It appears my example was pretty on point; sample sentences suggested:
- “Ze loves coffee!”
- “I asked zim to meet me in the library.”
- “Ze taught zirself to play the guitar.”
More words meant for a moratorium:
- lower division graduate
- upper division graduate
Also X’d out: “ladies and gentlemen.”
Instead, use “colleagues, guests, all, friends, people, students, folks,” and that prime piece of Pennsylvanian linguistic real estate, “yinz.”
It’s a bold choice: A place tasked with enhancing students’ ability to express themselves tells attendees to diminish their vocabulary toward an aim wholly at odds with the goal of communication. UP apparently wants enrollees to train in being less descriptive, not more.
I predict future literature will be awfully bland.
But maybe no one will notice, as the university’s not nearly alone in its mission to woke up the world.
“Ladies and gentlemen” is getting liberally licked:
Still, don’t doubt Pennsylvania’s paving the way.
In March, I covered UP’s nursing exam which made medical students ask imaginary patients their preferred pronouns.
At Pennsylvania State University, a professor told a white student he “may have oppressed somebody” just by virtue of breathing.
And there were these:
In case you missed it…
— Alex Parker (@alexparker1984) September 3, 2021
A Pennsylvania Dental School Fights the Cultural Cavity of Transphobia
— RedState (@RedState) January 31, 2021
So goes society.
University of Pittsburgh’s Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion has a job to do, and they do it.
Among education’s evolution, I wonder if the school has another department…I wonder, in fact, if any do…
Is there a campus that offers an Office for Academics?
I’m not sure they deal in that anymore.
If not, ladies and gentlemen, I think it’s a shame.
It’s nearly enough to make me complain to an ombudsman.
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece was edited to reflect that the university in question is the University of Pittsburgh, not the University of Pennsylvania. We regret the error.)