The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday June 7th

Paige Views

Why we've decided to switch to gender-neutral terms this year

In the interest of inclusivity, The Daily Tar Heel will from now on use gender-neutral language in its stories.

Every year, the leaders of the DTH are given the power to make as many or as few changes as they wish to the DTH style guide. This year, we felt it was really important to end something that has been the norm here since before we started as staffers.

In 2010, 30 students marched to the DTH offices with a petition containing over 430 signatures, asking then Editor-in-Chief Andrew Dunn to reconsider his policy on "freshman" versus "first-year." According to the same article, under the 2008-09 editor-in-chief, the DTH did use "first-year student" but still used gender-specific words in other cases. 

And back in 2010, Dunn opted to uphold the Associated Press Stylebook's ruling on "freshman" and stick with that. He felt that "freshman" was clearer to students than "first-year." It's been the same way since we can remember it. 

But we don't really believe in leaving things the same way just because it's the way it's always been, and now more than ever, we all see a pressing need to be inclusive in the way we write about people. 

Today, the DTH says farewell to gender-specific terms.

  • Instead of freshman, we will say first-year. 
  • Instead of chairman or chairwoman, spokesman or spokeswoman, we'll say chairperson or spokesperson.
  • In any other instance where a gendered term might be commonly used, we will find a gender-neutral alternative.

Questions or concerns? Email Paige at or Alison Krug and Drew Goins at

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