The student senate of the University of Kansas, a fellow member in the Big 12 Conference, voted last week to delete all instances of “his/her” and other gender-specific pronouns from the official Student Senate Rules and Regulations document and replace these words with gender-neutral pronouns.
“This is a key first step in making our campus more inclusive,” said student senator Harrison Baker, the bill’s main author. “Hopefully this will be a catalyst to create discussions on campus and cause change to happen elsewhere.”
KU claims this move to eliminate “his/her” from its government documents was also passed to “increase the inclusivity of student senate and prevent the microaggressions gender pronouns pose to individuals who don’t use them.”
This bill has two problems with which it must come to grips: (1) the existence — or lack thereof — of microaggression resulting from instances of “his/her” in student government documents, and (2) the effectiveness of removing and replacing these pronouns with gender-neutral ones for the betterment of the community.
What evidence is there to demonstrate that gender-specific pronouns contain these so-called microaggressions? Even if these words can be seen as hurtful, Baker himself is not sure this initiative from the student senate will do anything to move the school closer to its goal of inclusion.
Baker says he hopes for discussion and change to come out of this bill. That would imply there is some issue needing to be addressed.
If there is, after all, some epidemic of microaggression contained within pronouns, the burden of proof is upon KU’s student senate to demonstrate why that is the case. This all looks like a mountain made out of a molehill.
Last week, Huffington Post published a blog piece titled “The 3-Letter Word That Cuts Women Down Every Day.” Author Cameron Schaeffer describes her recent “epiphany” which helped her realize the word “too” is misogynistic.
“Everything is too this or too that,” Schaeffer writes. “We see it every day in the tabloids. I have determined that too means you’re calling a woman too far away from your idyllic vision of what a woman should be.”
This Huffington Post blog piece is just a picture into confused minds that extrapolate ridiculous conclusions from just about anything in contemporary society. It’s no different with KU’s student senate bill. The idea of “his/her” being loaded with microaggression is both ostentatious and preposterous.
Moreover, it’s pretentious for the student senate to expect much change, if any, to spring from this bill that only affects its own documents. And it’s preposterous for the student senate to expect a metaphysical paradigm shift in gender ideology to come out of a simple replacement of “his/her” to “they.”
Just to put into perspective how little change the pronouns will bring: The bill only applies to the student senate’s own documentation, specifically the rules and regulations. The student senate rules and regulations only apply to members of the student senate. Every other instance of gender-specific pronouns on KU’s campus will continue as they already existed.
To the student senate’s credit, the university has recently implemented gender-neutral restrooms and a gender-neutral safe zone that each pre-dates this bill. In other words, the student senate’s bill is at least consistent with the school and student body’s representative ideology on gender.
What’s in question is not the student senate’s intent or genuineness, but the validity of its decision. There’s hardly any evidence to expose microaggression in the usage of “his/her” in plain sight. Furthermore, KU’s student senate has done little to convince anyone that this bill was actually necessary. Lastly, it remains to be seen whether the bill will change anything at all. Regardless, the changes create a non-issue of microaggression in these pronouns.