How long before the problematic terms alumnus and alumna are replaced with the politically correct alumnix? And am I really the first person to predict (create?) the word alumnix? Background:

1) Alumni is a plural term which refers to all the people who have graduated (or, in many usages, attended) Williams. No one (yet!) objects to it. The origin is Latin and, in general, the plural in Latin ends words with an “i.” The problem with the term is that, strictly speaking, it should not be used to refer to a group of female-only alums. The correct usage would be alumnae, which the College does make use of, albeit less and less as the years go by.

2) The singular is alumnus (male) and alumna (female). These are occasionally problematic in that those without a decent Prep School education will mistakenly use the former to refer to a female Eph. The College tries, somewhat, to avoid that faux pas.

3) The College’s official style guide recommends:

Use graduate (gender neutral), alumnus (male), alumna (female), alumni (all male or both sexes) and alumnae (all female).

4) The problem today is that the entire concept of well-defined male/female is suspect. Consider the debate over the use of Latino (for male) and Latina (for female).

This year, Fusion and MiTú each posted videos earnestly explaining to their millennial viewers why “Latinx” is the new term everyone should use to refer to people of Latin American descent.

The argument is that “Latinx” is a less determinist, more inclusive form of the words it replaces — “Latino” for males and “Latina” for females. These gendered identifiers, the thinking goes, impose a binary, give preference to the male over the female, and leave out those who don’t consider themselves either.

Williams has not (yet?) come around to that way of thinking.

Latina/o Studies at Williams College is a dynamic, interdisciplinary program that offers a five course concentration and the opportunity for students to complete a senior honors thesis. Students from all backgrounds are welcome and encouraged to take courses and pursue a concentration in Latina/o Studies.

But — Thank goodness! — there is movement in the right direction: “Visit Sawyer Library to view a display in celebration of Latinx Heritage Month.”

How long before Williams replaces Alumnus/Alumna with Alumnix?

5) According to Wikipedia:

An alumnus (/əˈlʌmnəs/ (masculine), an alumna (/əˈlʌmnə/ (feminine), or an alumnum (/əˈlʌmnəm/ (gender-neutral) of a college, university, or other school is a former student who has either attended or graduated in some fashion from the institution. The word is Latin and simply means student. The plural is alumni (/əˈlʌmnaɪ/) for men and mixed groups and alumnae (/əˈlʌmniː/) for women. The term is not synonymous with “graduate”; one can be an alumnus without graduating. (Burt Reynolds, alumnus but not graduate of Florida State, is an example.) An alumnus can also be and is more recently expanded to include a former employee of an organization[1] and it may also apply to a former member, contributor, or inmate.

So, perhaps alumnum is the better answer? I don’t remember my high school Latin well enough to comment.

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