In a move critics are calling political correctness gone too far, the University of North Carolina has stricken the word “freshman” from official documents in favor of more "gender inclusive language," the conservative blog Campus Reform reported Tuesday. The proper term is now "first-year student."
The policy change was actually instituted in 2009 but only received media attention recently when reporter John Stossel learned of it while taping a segment of his Fox Business Network show at UNC.
The Chapel Hill school is “committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our community,” the college said in a statement to Campus Reform. That also means chairman, and presumably chairwoman, were scrapped for simply "chair."
Reaction in the "you gotta be kidding" camp was strong.
"Undoubtedly, the school will now call for the city name to be changed, since Chapel Hill sounds too Christian," read an anonymous post on EducationViews.org.
In a commentary headlined "Feminism Gone Awry," Deborah Dunham of the women's site BlissTree.com wrote, "I suppose it could have been worse if they decided upon 'freshperson.' "
"What [administrators] are really doing is a slap in the face to women and feminism," Dunham added. "It’s making a mockery out of females and equal rights. How many women have actually filed a serious complaint about this term being sexist?"
But some readers disagreed. In a comment on the post, user SorrySister fired back at Dunham, saying other schools commonly used "first year" instead of "freshman."
"You taking offense to the university using a more inclusive word to describe a group of diverse people is a slap in the face to women and feminism," SorrySister wrote. Another commenter applauded UNC for adopting "vocabulary that doesn't presume that male is the default setting!"
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