Elon University in North Carolina banned the word “freshman” from its website and student orientation, claiming it’s sexist and suggests that the young women might make good rape victims.
It’s replacing the term with “first-year.”
“The term has often been felt to refer to the vulnerableness of young women in college for the first time,” Leigh-Anne Royster, the school’s “Inclusive Community Wellbeing Director” told the College Fix.
“Given the rates of sexual violence perpetrated against women on college campuses, it is useful to examine any use of a term that suggests that a group of people just entering college might be targets for such violence in any way,” she added.
In fact, the word is apparently so dangerous that any orientation leader who dared to use it was immediately corrected.
“They engrained over and over in our brains that it was supposed to be ‘first-year,’ not ‘freshman,’” sophomore orientation leader Alaina Schukraft told the Fix. “They were very adamant . . . and stressed the importance of using language that would make the new students feel comfortable.”
Ironically, Schukraft said that multiple students approached her and said they were actually more comfortable with the word “freshman.”
But no matter. Greg Zaiser, vice president of admissions and financial planning, insists that it will make the school a better place for women — telling the Fix that people consider “freshman” to be a “sexist” word.
“As an inclusive community, Elon strives to incorporate language that is current and reflective of our student body,” Zaiser said in an e-mail to the Fix.
No public announcement was made about the word switch. According to the Fix, administrators relied “largely on word of mouth.”
— Katherine Timpf is a reporter at National Review Online.