Language issue to be discussed

By Paul Kirk

The decision about whether students will use “gender inclusive” guidelines in their writings at NIU might be decided this week in a showdown between members of the Student Association and “gender inclusive” advocates of the Freshman English Committee.

Freshman English Director Robert Self said the issue will be discussed at the committee’s open meeting at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Reavis Hall Room 211.

The gender inclusive language would not be stipulations or rules such as those governing plagiarism; they are guidelines, he said.

Self continued to say students’ grades would not be lowered, but a student’s effectiveness toward a diverse audience could lower their grade.

“The Freshman English Committee is interested in establishing non-bias use of English in the university,” he said.

SA President Preston Came disagreed. He said the issue is clearly politically motivated.

The policy would follow guidelines set down in 1971 by the National Council of Teachers of English.

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

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

“I assume there isn’t any English faculty member who prescribes a way to write,” Self said.

“The NCTE guidelines say the National Council of Teachers influence thought and behavior,” Came said. “I would say it’s an attempt to advance political agenda.”