Are my “friends” on the faculty punking me, sending me absurd parodies of Administration e-mails which make me seem stupidly naive for publishing them? Latest example:

From: “Buell, Denise”
Date: August 28, 2018 at 5:57:17 PM GMT+2
To: WILLIAMS-FACULTY@LISTSERV.WILLIAMS.EDU
Subject: student pronouns
Reply-To: “Buell, Denise”

Dear Colleagues,

Williams College is committed to building a community where everyone is a full member. Part of this commitment involves acknowledging gender diversity on campus and respectfully addressing our students and peers. How we practice language matters, and being attentive to what pronouns we use allows us to respect the multi-faceted identities of our community members. Everyone has the right to be addressed as they should be, and we leave that to each individual to determine.

With this in mind, we are pleased to announce that the Office of Institutional Technology and the Registrar’s Office are working to facilitate appropriate pronoun identification for faculty, students and staff. The first step in this process has been to give students the option to submit their pronouns in PeopleSoft, and to make student pronouns available to faculty on class rosters in PeopleSoft as well as to academic advisors in their Advisor Center/My Advisee section. (Please note that at this time, they will not be available via GLOW.)

The process for students is simple. Students will select pronouns per instructions provided to them by the Registrar’s Office. A student’s pronoun will be indicated on the class roster in PeopleSoft under a “pronoun” column. When or if a student changes pronouns at any point during the term (even after add/drop), faculty instructors and academic advisors will receive an email notification from PeopleSoft indicating that one or more students submitted a pronoun update, and they will be directed to their roster.

For now, this change will take place at the student level. The Office of Institutional Technology, Human Resources, and the Registrar’s Office are working diligently to ensure that the pronoun identification process can be made available for faculty and staff. This is an effort that will take some time, and that is greatly impacted by the technological limitations of our current systems. Faculty and staff will be notified of these forthcoming changes as they occur.

As Faculty, one of our key teaching responsibilities is to create inclusive learning communities. In our classrooms, we set examples for students everyday for how to engage each other with respect. As you know, the way we speak to others matter and can make a profound difference in someone’s life. As you consider strategies for pronoun use, you may find the accompanying list of resources below helpful.

If you have any additional questions or need additional information, please contact any member of the Offices of the Dean of the Faculty, Institutional Diversity and Equity, and the Registrar.

best,

Denise K. Buell

Office of the Dean of the Faculty

You may find the following resources helpful:

A guide to pronoun practices at Williams, which includes lists of existing pronoun choices, as well as strategies for pronoun use.

See also Some helpful information about Name Change Policies on the Registrar’s website.

And, many have found the “‘Ask Me’: What LGBTQ Students Want Their Professors to Know” to be an especially handy resource.

We would also like to share below the following information that the Office of the Registrar has provided to students to help guide them in their practices.

Why should I select a pronoun?

Informing the community of your pronouns helps everyone address you appropriately and respects everyone’s right to be addressed as they should be.

What are the pronoun choices?

The following list is not exhaustive.

she/her/hers
he/him/his
they/them/theirs
ze/zir/zirs
zhe/zher/zhers
name/name/name (e.g. Kris would like Kris’ things for Kris)

other (fill in the blank with your pronoun choice.)

Some pronouns dos and don’ts:

Do!

DO-If you would like to ask someone’s pronoun, start by offering your pronoun first, “Hi, I’m ____. I use the pronouns ____. What about you?” It is good practice to ask which pronouns a person uses, instead of assuming.

DO-Understand that some people are not comfortable sharing their pronouns. Some people would prefer that you call them by their name. This is particularly true for some people who may feel they are being asked to share information that they are not ready to share.

DO-Be patient with yourself and others. If you make a mistake, apologize, make the correction and move on.

Don’t!

DON’T-Refer to pronouns such as “they/them/their” or “ze/zir/zirs” as “gender-neutral pronouns.” While some people identify as gender-neutral, many don’t see themselves as gendered, but as gender nonconforming. Better language is “non-binary pronouns.”

DON’T- Describe the pronouns someone uses as “preferred pronouns.” It is not a preference. The pronouns that a person uses are their pronouns and the only ones that should be used for them.

DON’T-Say “male pronouns” and “female pronouns.” Pronouns are not necessarily tied to someone’s gender identity: some people use “he/him/his” or “she/her/hers,” but do not identify as male or female, respectively.

If Denise Buell is sending e-mails like this today, what sort of e-mails will she be sending in 15 years?

Also, what does President Mandel think about this topic?

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