Committee to discuss proposal

By Paul Kirk

A controversial proposed “inclusive language” policy will reach the Freshman English Committee Oct. 16.

The aim of the policy, or guidelines, is not to limit students but give them greater choices, said Robert Self, director of freshman English.

Self said the policy would follow guidelines set down by the National Council of Teachers of English in 1971 and revised in 1985.

“I feel instructors have a right to implement a section in their courses on non-sexist language,” said James Norris, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Norris said he would favor a proposal of teaching students to avoid racist or sexist language, but doubted if he would agree that students should have to write everything in a non-sexist, non-racist way.

“Language is a way to convey ideas and offer other ways for people to express themselves,” Norris said.

Self said he assumes no English faculty member prescribes a way to write.

“Grading is usually up to the instructors. The whole faculty doesn’t grade the same way,” Self said.

J. Carroll Moody, executive secretary of the University Council, said he doesn’t expect the issue to come in front of the UC, but that topics have a way of coming up in UC discussion.

“People sometimes want to express their views on a subject; thus making policy,” Moody said.

Like the UC, English department officials don’t know where the talk will lead.

“The issue of the gender-inclusive policy is on the freshman committee’s docket, but that is all,” Self said.

He also said the guidelines are in no way set in stone.

The committee might find the proposals no more interesting than the members of last year’s committee, Self said.

He said curriculum changes usually are reviewed by the English committee, college curriculum committee and the UC curriculum committee.

Norris said he hasn’t seen any curriculum proposal yet. “We normally allow course criteria to be discussed and implemented by departments,” he said.

Changes made in LA&S courses usually go in front of the college curriculum committee that is made up of LA&S faculty, he added. “You can bet they’ll ask some pretty tough questions.”

But, Norris said general electives could go to the UC’s curriculum committee.