Petition for students to declare pronoun preference gains traction

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 - 6:45pm

A petition authored by Wolverines for Preferred Pronouns urging the University of Michigan to allow students to indicate their preferred pronoun to professors is gaining traction. The month-old online letter, addressed to University Provost Martha Pollack and Kedra Ishop, associate vice president for enrollment management, gained more than 50 supporters today.

“Currently, students must reach out to their professors and GSIs on their own or risk being misgendered in the classroom,” the petition reads. “This can be a mentally and emotionally draining experience for individuals who constantly have to inform or correct their professors of their identity.”

The petition advises a space for students to fill out their pronoun — male, female or gender-neutral — on Wolverine Access, and that faculty and staff be notified of the student’s preference on class rosters.

“Knowing the pronouns of one’s students is especially important in small lectures, discussion sessions, and language classes that focus on classroom conversation,” the petition reads.

Authors also invoke precedent at other universities around the country nothing that institutions including Harvard University and the University of California system provide ways for students to indicate their pronoun of choice when applying. The University garnered similar attention in 2010 when student government passed a resolution eliminating gender-specific pronouns from the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities.