Students petition for preferred pronouns to be stated on course rosters

Sunday, April 3, 2016 - 4:43pm

LSA freshman Anna Krauss and LSA junior Raivynn Smith talk with a passerby about putting pronouns on class rosters in the Diag on Friday.

LSA freshman Anna Krauss and LSA junior Raivynn Smith talk with a passerby about putting pronouns on class rosters in the Diag on Friday. Buy this photo
Amelia Cacchione/ Daily

 

Wolverines for Preferred Pronouns set up a table on the Diag Friday afternoon to garner support for a petition asking the University of Michigan to put pronoun preferences on class rosters.

The petition addresses what its supporters said they believe is a common issue for transgender students at the University, as many transgender students identitfy as one gender but are listed as another on class rosters and in the University’s records.

The petition charges that transgender students at the University must currently reach out to their professors or GSIs on their own concerning their identity, or risk being misgendered in the classroom. The founder of the initiative, LSA junior Felix Boratyn, said the group wants the administration, specifically University Provost Martha Pollack and Kedra Ishop, associate vice president for enrollment, to create a space on Wolverine Access to clarify students’ gender in the Campus Personal Information section.

Boratyn said though professors are well intentioned and a transgender student can e-mail a professor or GSI before a class concerning what gender they identify with, professors or GSIs can still accidently refer to the student using the wrong pronoun.

“I have had one teacher do that to me in front of the whole class,” Boratyn said. “He said she instead of he.”

Situations like these, he added, could be easily avoided if there were clarifications on class rosters.

Other colleges have already instituted this change, including Harvard University, Tulane University and University of Vermont. Social media sites such as Facebook also offer users the option to identify as transgender female or transgender male.

“As the leaders and best we should be on the forefront of this issue,” Boratyn said. “And I find it surprising that we are not.”

The petition currently has more than 500 signatures and attracted attention from students passing through the Diag throughout the day. LSA sophomore Jessica Drucker, who signed the petition Friday, said she agreed with the reasoning of Wolverines for Preferred Pronouns.

“It’s a really good cause,” Drucker said while signing the petition. “I don’t think people generally think about it, but it can make a huge difference for those it affects.”

The club said they are hoping to partner with Central Student Government in the near future to put more pressure on the administration to make these changes. LSA sophomore Elizabeth Marck, a member of the group, said CSG had already approached them, offering to help them better connect with the administration on the issue.

“Getting something passed through CSG would be incredible,” Marck said.

The club is hoping to continue to expand the petition past 500 signatures to attract the attention of University administration. Boratyn said he does not think the University is intentionally neglecting the issue, but rather that it hasnt garnered significant attention yet.

“It’s probably not happened yet because this is a very big school,” Boratyn said. “It’s a matter of distance from the problem and prioritization of issues.”