No one wants to be a Palomino

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The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board.

staff-op-3-3-16The 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The proposal stems from the assumption that the term “freshman” may be outdated and gendered, but it gets more involved from there.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.

6 Comments on "No one wants to be a Palomino"

  1. What's wrong with 1st year student, 2nd year student, etc. Seems this would be more descriptive, anyway, especially of those student that are in school longer than four years. The horse metaphors are being taken too far.

  2. Please think long and hard, MSU, before you pander to this new fad of not stepping on anyone's toes. I have always been proud of my time spent at Murray State, and I still hold out hope that at least one of my boys will attend, but this would change my mind. This is not a step to stop hazing or bullying or better the environment in which your students are learning. This is just another example of people making our culture worse, instead of stronger, by "solving" problems that don't exist. Teach the students to respect each other, regardless of race, gender or age, and set an example by not creating drama where there truly is none. We need to start teaching our children respect and that respect does not mean that someone else must change everything to fit our likes or dislikes. We may be offended, but we need to learn to work together, regardless.

  3. Do the people on this board have nothing else to do?! I mean how in the world would anyone even come to the conclusion that the terms freshman, sophomore, junior and senior are offensive? Whatever amount of time that has been spent on this issue is an absolute waste of time and money. If I had some MSU student come to me wanting a job and they said they were a Secrtariat instead of a senior I would have a very difficult time taking them serious.

  4. What about graduate students? I usually say, "I'm a graduate student at Murray State". Somehow, "I'm a Clydesdale at Murray State" doesn't make me sound professional in a job interview. If this policy is accepted, no student will use the new monikers. ( As if charging $400 per hour for graduate classes didn't already make me feel foolish, this would be the icing on the cake).

  5. "I'm a Clydesdale at Murray State" doesn't hold the same weight as "I'm a graduate student at Murray State" in a job interview. No one will take on the new moniker if this policy is accepted. Prospective students will decide to go to a school that doesn't make a joke of them right out of the gate (horse pun not intended, but I like it!).

  6. Sounds like a committee that is wanting to do something to justify its existence. Using the horse metaphors would be a complete embarrassment. Change for the sake of change is never a good idea.

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