On Monday, October 21, Carleton Student Association (CSA) Senate passed a resolution giving students the option to display their preferred gender pronouns on the campus directory. This resolution reflects efforts among students and administration to increase visibility of gender diversity on campus.
The resolution to add gender pronouns to the Carleton campus directory was brought to CSA by Evie Kortanek ’22, Ozzy Cota ’22 and Molly Zuckerman ’22. According to Kortanek, the resolution was inspired by a petition, entitled “Let Carleton Students Display their Gender Pronouns on the Campus Directory,” created by Naomi Brim ’21 last June. In the petition, Brim writes that “It is essential that students learn and respect each others’ gender pronouns to foster a safe and inclusive campus environment.” By including gender pronouns on the campus directory, Brim continues, the Carleton community “could make a step towards demonstrating that we are a campus that respects and acknowledges people’s gender identities—especially for non-binary and trans folks who might be tired of being misgendered or reminding people of their pronouns time and time again.”
Similarly, Kortanek sees the inclusion of gender pronouns on the campus directory as a way to “both increase visibility of gender diversity on campus and provide an infrastructure for holding each other accountable in avoiding the inequality that can occur when individuals are misgendered.”
“Transgender/genderqueer/non-binary students still experience some extent of invisibility and inequality on campus,” Kortanek continued. “We hope that making student pronouns visible helps in raising awareness of the inherent difference between biological sex and gender identity—and, thus, the harm in assuming one’s gender identity—and leads to a decrease in the instances of misgendering so that trans students can be recognized and affirmed as much as their cis counterparts.”
Students can choose to have their gender pronouns displayed on the campus directory, or they can opt out of the process. Kortanek said “We proposed that pronoun inclusion on the campus directory be optional to acknowledge and support those who are not comfortable sharing their preferred pronouns on the directory for whatever reason or who are still determining which pronouns they prefer.” Cota agrees, saying “It’s optional because by doing so it avoids forcing people to conform to gender pronouns and come out as being trans or gender nonconforming.”
“Everyone will have the choice to submit their preferred pronouns or not,” said Director of Web Services Julie Anderson. “If not submitted, nothing will show on the directory.” When asked what steps will be taken to ensure the privacy of students, Anderson said that “Student information is only shown to Carleton community members who have logged in.” According to Cota, “parents would require a student login in order to see the pronouns.”
This CSA resolution was passed on the heels of a college initiative to include gender pronouns on faculty rosters. On August 27, Dean of Students Carolyn Livingston sent an all-student email introducing this new initiative. “We now have a process by which you may communicate your personal pronouns electronically to your adviser and the professors of the courses in which you’re enrolled each term,” wrote Livingston. Personal pronouns would be reported on a Personal Pronoun Form, and communicated to advisors and professors through the Registrar’s Office.
In the email, Livingston emphasized that “This is an optional process for students who wish to share this information and is intended to provide a more discreet mode of communication offering an alternative to in-class sharing of pronoun preferences. Your submission will appear on your adviser’s and professors’ electronic rosters.”
Cota is hopeful that the new CSA resolution, “in conjunction with the college initiative where faculty were provided with a student’s pronouns beforehand” will “help mitigate the numerous cases in misgendering that I myself have experienced, as a non-binary and they/them pronoun user, and that fellow trans folx have experienced.”
According to Anderson, “The plan is to have pronouns in the directory by end of spring break.” Adding gender pronouns to the campus directory will be a multistep process. “The data needs to be made available to the directory, and the directory needs to receive it for display,” said Anderson. “The first step will take some time, partially because there is other work in progress that need to be completed first.”