LOONY VALLEY: Penn State Faculty Votes to Axe ‘Freshman’ and ‘Sophomore’ in Effort to Rid Campus of ‘Gendered Terms’


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Penn State University will be removing terms such as “freshman” and “sophomore” in an effort to rid course descriptions and materials of gendered terms.

The university’s faculty senate voted on April 27 to approve bill AD84 on Preferred Name and Gender Identity Policy. The recommendations were made to ensure that all materials given to staff and students are inclusive. The changes will remove gendered pronouns and instead use they/them/theirs pronouns and use non-gendered terms such as student and staff in course materials and descriptions. Freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior will all be replaced with first year, second year, third year, and fourth year. This change attempts to move away from a “typically male-centered world.”

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The Senate Committee on Curricular Affairs also suggested the school change its language surrounding students who take longer than four years to complete a degree to remove the 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.” It has not been announced when the school will make these changes.

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