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Mount Holyoke Women’s College Instructs Professors to Not Use Term ‘Women’

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Instructors at the all-female Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, are being asked to refrain from using gendered terms such as “women.”

As part of a campus-wide initiative at Mount Holyoke College, instructors are being asked to use gender neutral terms like “students” in place of “women.”

“When discussing the student body, say ‘Mount Holyoke students’ rather than ‘Mount Holyoke women,” the guidelines read. “Avoid making statements like ‘We’re all women here…’, or referring to ‘…the two genders.'”

The guidelines also include advice for teachers who want to make their classrooms welcoming for trans students.

“If you make a mistake, correct yourself. Going on as if it did not happen is actually less respectful than making the correction,” the guidelines read. “This also saves the person who was misidentified from having to correct an incorrect pronoun assumption that has now been planted in the minds of any other participants in the conversation who heard the mistake.”

The Mount Holyoke website also explains that the college is still an institution for women, despite the constantly evolving definition of “women” in progressive circles. Now, biologically born males who identify as either a woman or by alternative pronouns are welcome to apply for admission at Mount Holyoke.

“Traditional binaries around who counts as a man or woman are being challenged by those whose gender identity does not conform to their biology,” the site reads.

Mount Holyoke also writes that classrooms are not free from the realities of the outside world, meaning that students can expect to be subjected to the same kinds of missteps that the average person might make when it comes to understanding new theories on gender.

“Classrooms are never neutral spaces and are marked by the same inequalities, exclusion and power struggles that exist elsewhere in the world,” the site reads. “The point is not to claim a privileged space for the classroom that is somehow exempt from those dynamics, but to work to eliminate them where we can, confront them honestly when we cannot, and find ways to listen and include all our students in equitable, just ways.”

 

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