Penn State to Stop Using ‘Freshman,’ ‘Sophomore,’ Other Terms Because of ‘Male-Centric’ History

  • by:
  • 03/02/2023

In yet another case of selective bigotry, Penn State is removing all gendered and binary terms from their course and program descriptions to be more “inclusive.” 

The Penn State Faculty Senate approved a proposition in April, which would change the terms freshman, sophomore, junior and senior to first-year, second-year, third-year and fourth-year. And, the terms “underclassmen” and “upperclassmen” would be replaced with “lower division” and “upper division.” 

According to the proposition, terms like “freshman” and “upperclassmen” carry a male-centric and binary connotation, making them sexist and classist. It adds that terms like “junior” and “senior” are similar to male father-son naming conventions. 

The university has supposedly “grown out of a typically male-centered world.” 

Students beyond the fourth year of undergrad, usually called “super-seniors” could instead be referred to as “advanced-standing students.” 

What’s more, they want to stray from the use of gendered pronouns when referring to students, faculty, staff and guests in all admissions materials, scholarship information, housing materials and websites. 

Words like he, him, his and she,  her, hers would be replaced with they, them, theirs or student, faculty, staff member, etc. 

So, even if you identify as a female, you would instead be referred to as a they. 

Forcing pronouns on students who enroll at a university to receive an unbiased education is neither progressive nor inclusive. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

Image: by is licensed under