News Story

U of M Brings Personal Pronoun Wars To Michigan

Gender pronouns might include zie, zim, sir, or ve, ver, vis...

A new initiative by the University of Michigan invites students to report their preferred gender pronouns to the university so faculty and staff can use these when addressing each student.

Students can update their gender pronouns on Wolverine Access, a portal for students, faculty, and staff.

Directions on the university's website titled “Help: Gender Identity” say: “Wolverine Access enables you to add, modify, or delete your designated pronouns on record with the University. Designated pronouns are only shared with those who have a legitimate education interest in the information.”

An email sent to the student body by Provost Martha E. Pollack and Vice President for Student Life E. Royster Harper said students can “designate pronouns” for use on class rosters, presumably so professors refer to students by their preferred pronouns.

“The University of Michigan is committed to fostering an environment of inclusiveness,” the letter said. “Consistent with this value, the University has created a process for students to designate pronouns with the University and have those pronouns reflected on class rosters this fall.”

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald confirmed the email was sent to the study body and faculty on Tuesday. The campus newspaper Michigan Review first reported it.

The letter continued: “A designated pronoun is a pronoun an individual chooses to identify with and expects others to use when referencing them (i.e., he, she, him, his, ze, etc.). Faculty members play a vital role in ensuring all of our community feels valued, respected and included.”

Other commonly used gender pronouns might include zie, zim, sir, or ve, ver, vis.

“Designated Pronouns will automatically populate on all class rosters accessed through Wolverine Access,” the letter read, noting pronouns will not be listed if students do not choose them.

“These changes give students the ability to tell the University what pronoun they identify with for use in our communications and interactions with them,” the letter explains. The letter also says using another student's correct “designated pronoun is one of the most basic ways to show your respect for their identity and to cultivate an environment that respects all gender identities.”

If a mistake is made by referring to another student with the wrong pronoun, the offending person should acknowledge their mistake and use the accurate pronoun next time, the letter says.

The process was created by a “pronoun committee” made up of faculty and staff from all three campuses (Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Flint). Its existence was first reported by the campus newspaper, The Michigan Review.

Fitzgerald said the initiative was brought forward by students.

In the Michigan higher education budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor will get more than any other state university at $308.6 million. Its Flint and Dearborn campuses get another $24.8 million and $22.5 million, respectively.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.