American University’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion in Washington, DC is planning to introduce a campus policy that would officially require both students and staff to use preferred pronouns, reported the College Fix.
The university’s guide on pronouns currently serves as a moral compass for community members, instructing them to ask others what pronouns they use and “never argue with or question a person’s gender identity of pronouns.” It also explains the conjugations of “Ze,” “Ey” “Per” and “Them,” warns students and staff to be careful when using the term “preferred pronouns” because some may consider it demeaning and warns them not to assume that “he/him/his” and “she/her/hers” are male and female pronouns respectively.
Concerns: Adam Kissel, who served in the Trump administration’s Department of Education and recently left AU’s Department of Management, discovered the plan after he reached out to the center with questions about the “pronoun guide.” Kissel worried that the guide is more than just mere suggestions, but Robin Adams, the center’s director of educational programs and training, reassured him that there the guide isn’t mandatory.
Adams did highlight that “asking, sharing, and respecting personal pronouns is commonplace on our campus,” describing it as “basic to human dignity.”
Worth noting: The guide exists for about four years, but Kissel learned about it one month ago.
But, Six days later, Kissel received an email from the coordinator for LGBTQ+ support and diversity programs Anna Morrison, which stated that although currently there isn’t a policy that mandates what the guide outlines, “we are currently working on a chosen-name policy for the university and I would like to make this official policy to use [a] student’s chosen name and pronouns.”
Morrison attempted to recall the email, according to Kissel. Once a message is recalled, the recipient can no longer access the message or any attachments in the email.
Action: The revelation prompted Kissel to send a letter to President Sylvia Burwell, arguing that such mandatory policy conflicts with First Amendment rights and academic freedom.
“Not only would such a policy be exclusive with respect to people who have moral views that differ from those of the official morality of AU and its Center for Diversity & Inclusion, and not only would such a policy enforce a set of alleged facts that are deeply contested in American society and among scholars,” but would also “violate AU’s promises of academic freedom and free speech,” wrote Kissel.
The guide “seems to fail the test of diversity, equity, and inclusion by seeming to exclude those who have different views of the alleged morals and facts,” he said, adding that such a policy would make him feel excluded if he were to return to the university as a visiting scholar.