University of Michigan Professors Will Face Disciplinary Action for Ignoring ‘Preferred Pronouns’

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By Jillian Kay Melchior | 2:29 pm, September 28, 2016

The University of Michigan yesterday unveiled a new webpage that allows students to choose their preferred pronouns, including “they” and “ze.”

Preferred pronouns will appear on class rosters, and if professors accidentally use the wrong pronoun, “you can acknowledge that you made a mistake and use the correct pronoun next time,” said the university’s provost and vice president for student life in a campus-wide email announcement. It also called using preferred pronouns “one of the most basic ways to show your respect for their identity and to cultivate an environment that respects all gender identities.”

A university spokesman tells Heat Street, “If there were a persistent pattern of ignoring a student’s preference, we would address that as a performance matter.”

The new Wolverine Access page allows students to add, change, or delete preferred pronouns, which will be shared only with “those who have a legitimate education interest in the information,” the new webpage says. Students who don’t specify a preferred pronoun won’t have one listed, the university said.

The college’s IT team made the change, so it had no specific cost, a university spokesman said.

The decision comes after a University of Michigan junior founded the Wolverines for Preferred Pronouns Initiative, also starting a Change.org petition that has gained more than 750 signatures this year.

The petition argued that it is “a mentally and emotionally draining experience for individuals who constantly have to inform or correct professors of their identity.” Allowing students to specify their own preferred pronouns “will prevent the erasure of nonbinary individuals who use neopronouns or they/them pronouns,” it said.

In April, the student newspaper endorsed the petition, and the Central Student Government also passed a resolution in its favor.

Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.

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