UMN student gov set to vote on gender pronoun policy

Students and faculty senators at the University of Minnesota will vote in May on a gender pronoun policy. 

A previous version of the policy proposal would have punished the incorrect use of gender pronouns with anything up to and including expulsion or termination of employment, as Campus Reform previously reported. However, UMN scrapped the punishment aspect from this policy in February. 

The controversy surrounding the initial policy revolved around the issue of free speech.

UMN student Sen. Ian Smith said that the policy is a “constitutional gray area” as it asks some individuals to go along with a worldview that they may not personally support, adding that “it should be your choice, not the University’s” as to whether or not you use someone’s preferred pronouns, the Minnesota Daily reported.

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The proposed policy now states that university members “are expected to use the names, gender identities, and pronouns specified to them by other University members, except as legally required,” and no longer mentions the previous possible punishments for improper pronoun use.

The “vague and unjust punishments” in the initial pronoun policy faced “bi-partisan backlash” on campus, John Cannon, President of UMN College Republicans told Campus Reform, adding that he’s excited that “clearer heads prevailed this time” at the school.

UMN also is continuing to integrate pronoun training into its academic and extracurricular programs. 

Nina Lind, a UMN business student, and College Republicans member told Campus Reform that it’s totally normal for student groups to demand that students “clarify [their] pronouns and use the correct pronouns for [their] fellow members.”

UMN’s Women in Business group, for instance, informs readers of the correct pronouns of members it profiles in Facebook posts

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The University teaches students that “mispronouncing someone[‘s pronoun] is a microaggression” and that students should not “refer to [their] pronouns as “gender pronouns.” “Pronouns are not gendered and do not directly correlate with a specific gender,” it states.

The updated pronoun policy is set to be voted on at the May 2 meeting of UMN Student Senators and Faculty Senators. It is unclear as to what exactly this policy will change at UMN, as the school already has a clear policy in place that prohibits harassment or discrimination based on gender identity or expression.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @megolsonn