Vermont college hands out 'pronoun pins' to incoming freshmen

Amber Athey
Investigative Reporter

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  • In an effort to become more inclusive for gender nonconforming students, Champlain College handed out hundreds of pronoun pins during first-year orientation advertising the wearer's preferred gender pronouns.
  • Options included "she/her," "he/him," "xe/xer," and even "Hello, my pronouns are fluid. Please ask me!"
  • In an effort to become more inclusive for gender nonconforming students, Champlain College handed out hundreds of pronoun pins to students and faculty during first-year orientation.

    The pins contain a number of preferential pronouns, including "she/her," "he/him," "xe/xer," and even pins that read "Hello, my pronouns are fluid. Please ask me!"

    "Hello, my pronouns are fluid. Please ask me!"   

    [RELATED: OSU button campaign aims to make ‘trans-phobic’ students ‘uncomfortable’]

    According to the Burlington Free Press, the pins were created by the office Residential Life, which expressed a desire to “accommodate students in the LGBT community.”

    Student orientation leaders can be seen wearing the pins on Champlain College’s Facebook page.

    “We have a number of students who identify as transgender or on the non-binary spectrum, and about a week before orientation while we were pulling together materials, the idea just kind of came out of the air," Director of Residential Life Danielle Berube told the Free Press. "It just seemed like a no-brainer—a very easy way to make the first day of college for a number of our students maybe a little bit easier."

    Maggie Melvin, The Center’s associate director, described the pronoun pins as a natural extension of student recognition that using correct pronouns is a “way of showing respect,” pointing out that Champlain also opened a new Women and Gender Center on Monday in response to student demands for a place on campus dedicated to gender education and collaboration.

    “We have seen a lot of students who have really taken hold of pronoun use as being something they recognize as being an important way of showing respect and acceptance and support to their peers and to themselves," Melvin explained.

    [RELATED: OSU button campaign aims to make ‘trans-phobic’ students ‘uncomfortable’]

    However, Berube and Melvin admit that not everyone is on board with the inclusion of pronouns outside of the normal gender-binary.

    "It would certainly be a generalization to say everyone is on board," Berube conceded. "Certainly there's resistance or folks who maybe it just doesn't jive with their beliefs or their own thinking, but we're in an educational atmosphere, so this is the place where people are supposed to confront their values and beliefs and understand them or push on them. This is the place where we should be doing this."

    New York University launched a similar effort during its 2015 Welcome Week, featuring its buttons in a post on the Facebook page for the event.

    “We have gender pronoun pins for you! You can pick them up from the Welcome Table in the Kimmel Lobby,” the post advises students. “NYU strives to create an inclusive environment. It is important to offer opportunities for everyone, including trans* and non-conforming folks in our community, to indicate their gender pronouns.”

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @amber_athey



    Amber Athey

    Amber Athey

    Investigative Reporter

    Amber Athey is an Investigative Reporter for Campus Reform. She graduated from Georgetown University with a B.A. in Government and Economics, and is currently a member of the 2016-2017 Koch Associate Program. 

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