Star’s pronoun policy shows responsibility, respect

By Lise Schlossser

I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Editorial Board for their decision to ask anyone whom your reporters interview to provide a preferred pronoun. This gesture of responsibility and respect speaks well to your publication’s integrity and commitment to accurate reporting. Additionally, the decision is clearly in line with the NIU Statement of Mission and Vision, which has been approved by our Board of Trustees, where we read that the university values “a climate of respect for the intrinsic dignity of each individual.” It seems to me that there is no more basic show of respect than referring to an individual by the pronoun that person has chosen.

Robert Schneider’s letter to the editor, “Northern Star’s pronoun policy ‘gets us out of jail free,’” appears to take issue with your new policy and seems to mock individuals who choose pronouns that may not be traditionally associated with the sex of the body they inhabit. I am disappointed that a member of our faculty would be this insensitive (and publicly, no less) to the dignity of the individuals with whom “Superhero” (for Schneider indicates that this is the preferred noun; Schneider does not indicate a preferred pronoun) works, instructs and interacts. The students, faculty and staff at NIU deserve better.

Schneider does get one thing right: Language is important. This is the only thing with which I can agree with Schneider’s expressed opinions. You see, words have meanings and meanings have consequences. Unfortunately, for many people, the choice of a pronoun can endanger their safety (often their lives) because of intolerance and bigotry. The language we use is also the one thing over which we each have absolute control. I choose to use the pronouns that my students and my colleagues have chosen for themselves. I choose to do it out of my own desire to respect the choices people can only make for themselves. I am glad that the Northern Star does, too.


Lise Schlossser

Preferred pronouns: she/her/her