NYU chosen pronoun policy could create confusing guessing game

Students at New York University can now request that their professors avoid referring to them by their pronouns in the classroom. 

Albert, the portal for NYU members, is now equipped with a tool that allows students to list their desired pronouns, name pronunciations, or choose to not list them at all. The NYU website for Pronouns and Name Pronunciation offers tutorials and videos for how to complete filling in the pronoun information. 

Class rosters will be updated every night so that professors never pronounce a student’s name incorrectly or call them by the wrong pronoun.  Or, if a student prefers, they can request that their professors never use pronouns when referring to them in class. 

”Select your pronouns and decide whether or not you want them used in the classroom,” the website announcing the new feature states. 

Because students no longer only use his/her pronouns according to their biological sex, the new policy could complicate classroom discussions, unless professors use a student’s given name each and every time they refer to a particular student. 

[RELATED: UC-Davis lists ‘yo’ and ‘xie’ as gender-neutral pronouns]

“Misgendering is incorrectly referring to a person’s gender by assuming their gender identity,” the website states. “Often this is done by using the wrong pronouns for a person. Misgendering someone can be done intentionally or unintentionally, and it can have a long-lasting harmful impact.”

A university-wide email statement obtained by Campus Reform informed students of their newfound pronoun option.

The email explained to students they also have the option to have their pronouns only viewed by administrators and advisors if they are uncomfortable with their professors knowing their preferred option. The school declined to comment when asked what professors are to do in the event a student chooses to opt-out of having their pronouns listed publicly. 

”You can also opt-out of having your pronouns viewed by your instructors, in case you are only comfortable sharing your pronouns with administrators and advisors,” the university explained, before acknowledging that the need for the policy in the first place was because “we can no longer assume what pronoun(s) students want to use when referring to themselves,” and a “need to support faculty and staff in their efforts to pronounce students’ names correctly.”

The email finished by saying there is still much to do to improve the university. 

“We, as a community, have much work to do in a number of areas, and this is one action towards creating an even more inclusive NYU.”

[RELATED: Schools celebrate ‘International Pronoun Day’ with ‘ze’ buttons, advice on pronoun ‘privilege’]

NYU sophomore Liora Schlesinger says she believes the university is trying to keep students appeased but it will not have much of an impact.  

“I personally think it’s more of a token gesture- I’m not sure it will actually change anything,” Schlesinger told Campus Reform

Schlesinger says she believes the new option for students is a precautionary measure.

“It allows the school to give itself a pat on the back and cover its back in case anything happens,” Schlesinger said.

NYU has also created a page that lists all available pronouns students can choose from. The page explains the importance of using preferred pronouns so as not to misgender students and can be very harmful, they believe.

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