ANN ARBOR (WWJ/AP) – Students at the University of Michigan can designate a personal pronoun to be used by professors.
School officials say it’s an effort to build inclusiveness on campus. The pronoun could be he, she, him, his or ze.
The latter is — according to an online guide published by the Lesbian, Bi, Gay, Transgender Resource Center at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee — one of several gender neutral or gender inclusive pronouns which do not associate a gender with the individual who is being discussed.
“…The dichotomy of he and she in English does not leave room for other gender identities, which is a source of frustration to the transgender and gender queer communities,” the guide explains.
Spokesman Rick Fitzgerald says that starting this week, students registering online can choose whether they’d like their professor to refer to them as he, she or ze.
“To designate a personal pronoun, if they choose, it’s completely voluntary,” says Fitzgerald. “And the pronoun that they select will then show up on their class list for their professors.”
Michigan State spokesman Jason Cody says there are no pronouns but at MSU, “We allow students to designate their preferred name, so that can include how a student wants to be referred – based on whatever they want to be called. Based on their gender identity – based on whatever choice or whatever it is and why they choose that.”
Pronouns registered online by University of Michigan students will pop up in class rosters.
Provost Martha Pollack is telling faculty to check the rosters in a few weeks to give students time to designate one, although a registered pronoun is not required.
Pollack said correctly using someone’s pronoun “is one of the most basic ways to show respect” for a student’s identity. The policy was developed over the past year by a university pronoun committee.
TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.