Penn State to abandon ‘freshman,’ ‘junior’ for gender neutral titles

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STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania (WTVO) — Penn State University says it is ditching the terms “freshman,” “sophomore,” “junior” and “senior” in an effort to be “more inclusive.”

The faculty senate approved the proposition, which recommends using the terms first-year, second-year, third-year, fourth-year, etc, to move away from a “male-centric academic history,” according to the bill.

“Terms such as ‘freshmen’ are decidedly male-specific, while terms such as ‘upperclassmen’ can be interpreted as both sexist and classist. Terms such as ‘junior’ and ‘senior’ are parallel to western male father-son naming conventions, and much of our written documentation uses he/she pronouns,” it continues.

“Concerns have been raised that numbering years beyond the fourth (4th) would perhaps negatively reflect on students who, for various reasons, are taking longer to complete their (typically) four-year programs, and are also referred to as ‘super-seniors’.  In this case, the term does often carry a slightly negative connotation,” the bill says.

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