The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board.
The voices and wishes of students can be stifled by higher education policies we feel we have little or no control over. Sometimes we wish people with more power than we possess would take our concerns further and higher up than we can.
But sometimes we don’t like being spoken for. Sometimes we can, in fact, stand up for ourselves.
It’s like when parents step in and confront bullies for their kids – it’s a nice thought, but maybe they’re just making things worse.
Allow us to give you some context: Murray State’s Academic Policies Committee, a committee within the Faculty Senate, is proposing a change that no Murray State students, to our knowledge, have specifically asked for.
Furthermore, according to a poll we conducted, a majority of participants indicate they wouldn’t support the proposed change.
The proposal stems from the assumption that the term “freshman” may be outdated and gendered, but it gets more involved from there.
According to a memo sent out from the committee and addressed to the Faculty Senate, President’s Council, Student Government Association, Staff Congress and Murray State Women’s Faculty Caucus, the terms sophomore, junior and senior are “problematic” as well.
The Academic Policies Committee states, “‘Sophomore’ is a little too close to ‘sophomoric,’ ‘junior’ too diminutive, and ‘senior’ too overtly hierarchical.”
It’s a nice thought, and we appreciate the effort made to protect the best interests of student welfare, but maybe they’re trying to make a point that doesn’t need to be made.
Maybe they’re just making things worse.
A majority of The Murray State News editorial board and staff are female, and none of us have ever thought or voiced concerns that the term “freshman” is offensive, and we have some very strong-willed feminists in our midst.
Going into our second year of college, we didn’t fear we might automatically be viewed as “sophomoric,” which according to Merriam-Webster means “having or showing a lack of emotional maturity: foolish and immature.”
We didn’t feel belittled when we had to refer to ourselves as “juniors” and seniors don’t feel inherently more important than younger students just because they’re in their fourth year of college.
And while these are definite reasons why we’re in opposition of the committee’s proposition, there’s a more pressing concern at hand: they are not only suggesting our classifications be changed, but that they be changed to terms related to Murray State traditions.
Example suggestions by the committee include “Mustang,” “Blazer,” “Palomino” and “Secretariat.”
Here’s where the “parents stepping in for their kids and making things worse” metaphor really comes into play.
Frankly, we fear that if terms like these are adapted, Murray State and its students might not be taken seriously and that the new policy might scare off prospective students.
Imagine, for instance, a student representative of Murray State marching for higher education in Frankfort, Kentucky and announcing to representatives at the Capitol that they are a Stallion at Murray State and then expecting to be taken seriously.
Murray State’s image, reputation and credibility as a serious institution of higher education may be at stake.
While that may seem like a lofty assertion, the proposition of changing the student classification system is equally as lofty.
Marjorie Hilton, interim chair of the committee, spoke at the Faculty Senate meeting on Tuesday and said this proposition is motivated in part by efforts to advance the Strategic Initiatives plan Murray State recently established.
She said this kind of change is exactly what should be happening in order to foster “an exciting and challenging learning environment” and to challenge assumptions and stereotypes.
We beg to differ; it seems the opposite will happen and that this proposition will generate unwelcome assumptions and negative stereotypes instead of challenging any that may currently exist.