Freshmen or First-year?

Lydia Galbreath

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Many high schools and colleges are now changing the name of their newest classmen to first-years instead of the commonly used term, freshmen. One school committee policy subcommittee chairman, Marissa Carrere, was quoted saying, “[It is a] simple, sensible way to foster a more inclusive and equitable environment, and was in concert with the many transformations underway at our district.” Schools now want to promote a more gender neutral environment. From my point of view, I think these new changes are unnecessary. I believe that we could be focusing on more important things than the name of a grade level.

Having said this, I can see how some people might be in favor of the first-year name change. An argument commonly made, is that the term freshman promotes men as being the hierarchy above women. Schools are also afraid that the term freshman might make certain students feel uncomfortable. Other institutions have even gone as far as to say that the label freshman has led to higher percentages of sexual violence due to the fact that it puts a target on younger students. Political correctness is something schools nationwide are aspiring to have. My question is, at what point has a subject gotten too politically correct?

If we were to dissect the English language, we would find many biased words. In my opinion it is not worth spending the time and effort to change these terms. In the end, whether it be first-year or freshman, students will be the new rising class with many other problems surrounding them. Instead of worrying about what to call the newest class, campuses should be using all of their resources and energy to address underage drinking, mental illnesses, bullying, and other serious problems. Although this might seem like a big victory to some, to me it is just a tiny unneeded change that is a waste of time and energy. Not to mention the fact that a large amount of students won’t even use the term.

Another issue I have is the need for society to feel like women and men should be treated exactly the same. I’m not saying women should be treated with less respect, or should get paid differently. I’m saying that sometimes people take extreme paths for men and women to be equal in every circumstance. I believe the change in the label freshman is an example of taking it too far. One of the definitions of men is the human individual as representing the species, without reference to sex; the human race; humankind. The definition literally states, “without reference to sex”. To anyone who is opposed to the name freshman because of the fact that not everyone is a man, please keep this in mind.

Keeping things as they are with the title of freshman class is in my mind the best option. Not changing things would prevent parental and student backlash. There will always be people who insist on conforming to the ways of the world in 2018. I would like to ask these people, do you want this school to be known as unbiased, or willing to stand up to the problems that are physically affecting people? First-year is not going to prevent the target you have for being younger, and it’s surely not going to stop more important problems. Let’s put our minds on the things that affect our students the most.

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Freshmen or First-year?