A new policy announced this week at the University of Michigan lets students choose their own “designated personal pronoun” for class rosters — in the name of inclusiveness.
In an email to students and professors, the university defined a designated personal pronoun as “a pronoun an individual chooses to identify with and expects others to use when referencing them (he, she, him, his, ze, etc.).”
Using preferred pronouns, the email said, is one of the most basic ways to show respect for student identity and to cultivate an environment that respects all gender identities.
Michigan junior Grant Strobl thinks that’s way too politically correct.
To make his point, he has requested to be called “His Majesty,” whipping up controversy on campus by doing so.
“I henceforth shall be referred to as: His Majesty, Grant Strobl. I encourage all U-M students to go onto Wolverine Access, and insert the identity of their dreams,” he tweeted on Wednesday.
He even changed his Twitter profile photo, adding a crown to his head.
Strobl is chairman of the Young Americans for Freedom board of governors, a student organization that recruits members to advocate for conservatism and speak out “against the liberal agenda.”
In an interview with The College Fix, Strobl said he has “no problem with students asking to be identified a certain way,” but wants to show how silly it is for universities to institutionalize “arbitrary” pronouns.
He encouraged others to follow his lead and tweet their new pronouns to #UMPronounChallenge, and they have.
That’s not going over well in all corners of campus.
“In response to the University of Michigan’s new class roster pronoun policy, some students have customized their pronouns in a manner misaligned with the policy’s intent, sparking controversy on social media,” writes The Michigan Daily student newspaper.
“However, several students on campus have changed their pronouns to a variety of titles intended to spark ridicule of the policy.”
The newspaper reported that the new policy, developed over the last year by a committee of faculty and staff members, came in response to a student petition drive.
Strobl got a thumbs-up from TotalFratMove.com, which called his campaign a “brilliant troll job.”
“I don’t even know how UM plans to execute this pronoun initiative,” the fraternity news website wrote. “College professors have thousands of students. They can’t even learn everyone’s name, let alone that Susan Penderwhoopy in MWF 1-2:30 lecture prefers to go by ‘Bowl of Ravioli’ rather than ‘She.’ ”
One School of Information professor, according to the student newspaper, cited Strobl’s campaign as an example of how technology isn’t always used the way it was intended.
“It reminds me of … how difficult it can be for well-intended leaders such as our campus administration to anticipate how a well-intended system can be thwarted by folks,” Kristin Fontichiaro said in an email to the Information School community on campus.
And, she gave Strobl’s followers a heads-up.
“Should any #umpronounchallenge fans be on this list, please be advised that I do not plan to use ‘Your Majesty’ or ‘Professor’ as pronouns in my classroom,” she wrote.
“Call me an old-fashioned former English teacher, but titles are not pronouns.”