The Daily Tar Heel
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In Andrew Stiles’ letter-to-the-editor (“Gendered language hardly the root cause of injustice,” March 24), he argues that getting rid of gendered terms like “freshman” and “chairman” creates a slippery slope that would lead to getting rid of terms like “upper-level students” because it suggests juniors and seniors are more serious students than first-years and sophomores.

But the term “seniors” already privileges fourth-year students over third-year students whom we refer to as “juniors.” What would be better to use than either “upper-level students” or terms like “juniors” and “seniors,” are first-years, second-years, third-years, fourth-years, and so-on.

Much of the rest of the world, including the University of Virginia, already uses this terminology. I suspect that those who protested to end the use of sexist language in the DTH would also like to get rid of words like “sophomore” and “junior.”

Getting rid of sexist language is the first step. Let’s join the rest of the world and use a number to refer to each level. Then no one would have to say “I’m a fifth-year senior.”

I have friends who went to school in Canada and Great Britain and they tell me they never missed sexist terms like “freshman” when they were at college. They also find “sophomore” insulting (given “sophomoric”) and “junior” and “senior” meaningless.

One of them asked me, “If you take the word ‘junior’ seriously, why aren’t first-years called ‘juniors’?”

So in addition to ending sexist language like “upperclassmen,” let’s go further and get rid of these archaic terms that really make no sense when applied to undergraduate students. We need more change, not less.

Andrew Frost
UNC ’08

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