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Penn State to remove terms “sophomore” and “freshman”

Penn State University is removing the terms freshman, sophomore, in an effort to rid course descriptions and materials of gendered terms. 

Penn State’s Faculty Senate voted on April 27 to approve bill AD84 on Preferred Name and Gender Identity Policy. The recommendations, which were given to the general Senate by the Senate Committee on Curricular Affairs, were made to ensure all materials given to staff and students are inclusive,  according to the student paper The Daily Collegian

The changes will replace all pronouns in course materials and descriptions with they/them/theirs and use non-gendered terms like student or staff instead. Freshman, sophomore, junior and senior will be replaced with first-year, second-year, third-year, and fourth-year students, to move away from a “typically male-centered world” and rid the college of materials with a strong, male-centric, binary character.

The committee also recommended the school change its language surrounding students who take longer than four years to complete their degrees, to avoid negative connotations or stigma. 

“With the implementation of the AD84 – Preferred Name and Gender Identity Policy, it is time to close the loop and ensure that all people are not only able to choose their name & gender identity within our systems, but that these documents and systems are also structured to be inclusive from the start,” the committee said in their recommendation, according to the Senate faculty site. “We suggest that the University consider changes to all written materials, including recruiting materials, admissions materials, scholarship information, housing materials, other outward-facing documents, internal documents, and websites.”

The school has not announced when the changes will take place. 



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