Yale University’s administration says they are no longer using the word “freshman” to describe incoming students, moving toward the more “gender inclusive” term, “first years.”
According to the Yale Daily News, Dean of Student Affairs Camille Lizarríbar is “leading the conversation,” and that the school’s administrators are “committed” to seeing the change happen before the next academic year.
“I think there comes a time when you want to make sure that the way you’re calling things reflects the values that you have,” Lizarríbar told the student newspaper. “If we really are serious about inclusivity and diversity, we need to look at everything. It’s not written in stone that it has to be ‘freshman.’ … We do have some agency in what we call things.”
It’s actually surprising that it’s taken Yale this long to alter the term. Other Ivy League schools, like Cornell, have long-since moved away from using, “freshmen,” to describe incoming students over concerns that the term wasn’t gender-inclusive enough to accurately portray school values.
Lizarríbar seems to be the moving force behind the change, as Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway told the Daily News that it was something the school has been considering for some time, but never really got around to implementing.
“Dean Lizarríbar, who oversees freshman or first-year orientation … basically said ‘it’s time,’ and I have no problem with that,” he said.
Students are happy about the change, but cautious. Campus feminists told the student newspaper that the term was only one of many fights on campus centering around gender equality. The head of Yale’s transgender activist group said that the change was a “positive symbolic move” that made sense in an dark times presented by the Trump administration.
The school doesn’t have a timeline for implementing the gender-neutral terminology and, it seems, has not yet explored what switching from freshman to “first year” would entail, but says they will be ready to welcome incoming students of all genders, persuasions and identifications next year.