Title Nein: CUNY Eliminates Sex-Specific Salutations

Feb 09, 2015 |  Rachelle Peterson

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Title Nein: CUNY Eliminates Sex-Specific Salutations

Feb 09, 2015 | 

Rachelle Peterson

Are “Ms.,” “Mrs.,” and “Mr.” destined to become linguistic artifacts of the past? At the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center, they already are. These antique entrenchers of cis-gendered heteronormativity are now taboo there.

Interim Provost Louise Lennihan announced the new policy in January: No administrative staff may address current or prospective students using these titles. Instead, they should use first and last names. Presumably “ma’am” and “sir” are also off limits. What rules circumscribe professors’ speech is unclear. Professors aren’t mentioned in the new rules, but each one received a copy of Lennihan’s memo, which admonishes that the policy should be “interpreted as broadly as possible.” “My interpretation was that I was being asked to adhere to this policy, as were the other professors who received the letter,” commented one professor, Juliette Blevins, to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story.

It’s a novel reading to take Title IX as title nihilism, to be sure. No other institution bound by Title IX has adopted such a measure, and even the attorney Title IX consultant the Wall Street Journal interviewed, who says she “loves the concept,” rejects the creative legal interpretation. The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, charged with executing Title IX and notoriously zealous in enforcing gender equality, has not asked any schools to consider rephrasing, let alone eliminating, gender-specific titles.

Read the full article at TheFederalist.com >

Peter Suedfeld

| February 17, 2015 - 12:51 PM


I never realized that either a university administration or any other body in the United States could “ban” the use of any word in conversation or correspondence. I suppose banning “Doctor” and “Professor” would be next, as they may arouse anxiety and feelings of inferiority in students.
Perhaps the honorific “Comrade” could be substituted for all of the others.

D. Eynon

| February 22, 2015 - 10:01 PM


As an increasing number of words are banned in the name of political correctness, universities may at some point need to publish a list of the words one is allowed to speak and write.

Derry Eynon

| February 22, 2015 - 10:03 PM


As universities ban more words in the name of political correctness, at some point they may need to publish a list of words one is allowed to speak and write,