Let’s Not Say ‘Freshman’ Any More

You can’t make this stuff up. Elon University in North Carolina has dropped the word “freshman” and replaced it with “first-year,” according to The College Fix. ”Freshman,” of course, has the deadly word “man” in it. Can’t have that. But there’s another reason for the change: “f——n” ” may contribute to sexual violence on campus because it labels the youngest students, causing them to be targets. (Whereas “first-year,” which also labels most new students as young, apparently does not increase the odds of sexual violence.)

Feminists have been explaining for a year that drinking yourself into a stupor does not have anything to do with rape, but apparently the word “f——n” does. That’s the analysis of Leigh-Anne Royster,  Elon’s “Inclusive Community Wellbeing Director.” (Irrelevant question: why do women with hyphenated names seem to gravitate to weird PC job descriptions?)

“Using language that allows for a more inclusive understanding of gender will be important in our culture moving forward,” Royster said. “Moving away from language, including pronouns, that denote a gender binary will be something we see more and more as our culture evolves to celebrate a wider range of identities and expressions.”

“Gender binary” by the way, for those readers who have not prepared for the workplace by taking gender studies, indicates the controversial theory that  there are two genders, one male, one female, or as we now say, one male, one fe. Erasing the hidden male references in our language is a job for us all, men as well as wos.


  • John Leo

    John Leo is the editor of Minding the Campus, dedicated to chronicling imbalances within higher education and restoring intellectual pluralism to our American universities. His popular column, "On Society," ran in U.S.News & World Report for 17 years.

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4 thoughts on “Let’s Not Say ‘Freshman’ Any More

  1. I am curious what first year students at women’s colleges are called. I doubt it is freshmen. Now that most schools are coed, obviously freshmen is outdated. As for gender, it appears that old assumptions were wrong. It does not make sense to stick to an old way of thinking simply because it is familiar.

  2. Practice predates theory in this field, too: First year students are nowadays called “freshies” by students. No one ordained that; it’s just the way language evolved. Language directors haven’t got the ghost of a chance.

    Bon weekend!

  3. My favorite along these lines is Brandeis University in September of 1987 (after I had already graduated). A group of students pushed a school-wide ballot question that would mandate all “freshmen” be called “freshchunks.”

    It was meant as an ironic statement on political correctness. But if it had passed, I guess, it would have been written into the school bylaws that freshmen would have to have been called “freshchunks. ” It totally freaked people out. The student paper The Justice was filled with letters going back-and-forth about it. It even made it into the New York Times.

    The referendum ended up losing by a count of 2-1. I doubt that politically I would see eye-to-eye with the students who proposed it, but I thought it was wonderful. A real political tour de force.

    What I find most interesting (and offensive) is that Brandeis has THOROUGHLY cleaned this off the web. It has been purged. If you do a Google search of “Freshchunk” and “Brandeis”, nothing comes up. I went back to freshen my memory and couldn’t find a thing. I finally had to go into the Internet Archive, dig up archived versions of The Justice from fall 1987 and hand page through them to find anything.

  4. Agnes Scott College tried to eliminate freshmen in favor of first-years in 1993. I don’t recall if we used it much at the time or if we shrugged it off. One of the arguments was that for a women’s college to call incoming students freshMEN was inaccurate.

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