The Senate of College Councils proposed a resolution Thursday night that would allow students to add preferred pronouns to their profiles on Canvas.
Senate president Austin Reynolds, the author of Senate Resolution 1707, said the initiative would allow professors to become acquainted with their students’ pronouns before class and make self-expression more available in the classroom. Reynolds, an English senior, said similar initiatives have already been implemented at comparable universities such as Ohio State University and the University of California, Los Angeles.
“It’s important because we rarely get to talk about how individual identity affects learning spaces and how someone can experience a level of discomfort in a classroom where they’re either being misidentified or where (preferred pronouns are) not present, and they don’t feel like they’re fully welcomed inside that environment,” Reynolds said. “It’s for students who feel like they don’t have a place in the academic community.”
Transgender and non-binary communities at UT, including the on-campus Gender and Sexuality Center, pushed the initiative, Reynolds said.
With this change, students would be able to type in their preferred gender pronouns and update their student profile page on the website. Professors would have access to this information online and be better equipped to address students correctly, Reynolds said.
Students might even perform better on tests, said Jordee Rodriguez, president of Liberal Arts Council. She said addressing students by the wrong pronouns even accidentally could be seen as microagressions, which studies have shown can worsen students’ grades.
“Gender exists not in a spectrum but more so in a matrix,” government senior Rodriguez said. “Because of that there’s so many options within it … There’s too many to list, and there’s also people who don’t identify themselves as someone who has a gender, and that’s also important to recognize, because there’s different ways of articulating that.”
Reynolds said it is important that the website feature a fill-in-the-blank option instead of a drop-down menu so that they would have more options and be able to apply the pronoun most appropriate for them.
Biology sophomore Arianna Garcia said although she doesn’t imagine herself needing to use the feature, she thinks it would make school easier for students who would want to specify their preferred pronoun.
“I don’t have a pronoun in mind, but I think it would be great for people who do want that,” Garcia said. “It would make people feel more inclusive that way.”