Univ. of Michigan Adds Gender-Neutral 'Ze' to Pronoun List Used to Identify Students Who Reject 'He, She'

Michigan Stadium
Michigan Stadium is seen before the start of the NCAA college football game between University of Michigan and Notre Dame in Ann Arbor, Michigan September 10, 2011. Both teams wore throw back jerseys during the first night game in the history of Michigan Stadium. |

The University of Michigan is implementing a choose your own pronouns policy, having formed a so-called Pronoun Committee consisting of university staff from several campuses who've agreed to use gender-neutral words to identify students who don't want to be identified as either male or female.

In a memo obtained by the Detroit Free Press, Provost Martha Pollack and Vice President for Student Life Royster Harper thanked 11 faculty and administrators who have worked for the past year to formulate a process to ensure that students could select the pronouns by which they wsnted to be addressed.

One such pronoun students may opt for is "ze."

"Ze" is a supposed be used in place of the masculine "he" or feminine "she."

The English language website includes in its "usage note" section on the definition page for "ze" that it is generally employed as "gender-neutral singular third-person pronoun" and "is quite limited, partly because of a general resistance toward replacing English pronouns."

No doubt the university's efforts are aimed at curtailing some of that resistance.

"Faculty members play a vital role in ensuring all of our community feels valued, respected and included. Given that this process is new, we ask that faculty members review their rosters again in mid- to late October to give students time to designate their pronouns," campus administrators explained in the email.

"Asking about and correctly using someone's designated pronoun is one of the most basic ways to show respect for their identity and to cultivate an environment that respects all gender identities," the memo advised.

In the event that a faculty or staff member accidentally refers to someone by the incorrect pronoun, the memo says they are expected to "acknowledge that you made a mistake and use the correct pronoun next time."

The University of Michigan is not the first institution of higher learning to promote these new pronouns on campus.

The Christian Post reported on Sept. 9 that the Stanford University Computer Science Department circulated documents to this same effect.

Roger Severino, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, told CP earlier this month that "it is hard to see what would stop, other than the Constitution, ... the LGBT Left from going all the way beyond pronouns ... it's hard to imagine how much farther it could go."

Controversy about this issue seems to have waned as more schools enact similar policies. Just last year, moves like the one the University of Michigan made drew the ire of many, including some state legislators.

CP reported in September 2015 that the University of Tennessee president removed a post from the school's website "that encouraged students and professors to use gender-neutral pronouns like 'ze' and 'zir' instead of gender specific pronouns like 'she' and 'her,' saying it was the biggest controversy he's faced since he took office in 2011."

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