University of Copenhagen (KU) lecturers have been advised to pay more attention when articulating gender to the students in their classes.
The advice came prior to the start of the new semester via an email sent by the Department of Arts and Cultural Science last Friday, reports TV2.
The department urged the faculty to take into account that there are students who are transgender or non-binary and may feel uncomfortable when assigned a gender binary that they do not feel they belong to.
In order to foster an inclusive education environment, the management encourages lecturers to avoid gendered designations of students.
“Just a piece of advice”
However, the head of the department, Mette Sandbye, has since clarified to TV2 that the email was sent as advice and “shouldn’t seem like a set of rules”.
“This is a new situation for us, and there are no general guidelines for how we tackle it, so we think it’s good to talk to our employees,” continued Sandbye.
However, the management has put together some unofficial guidelines to help staff who might struggle with avoiding gendered designations.
The guidelines include: writing to the students individually to ask them if they have any preferences (pronouns etc), avoid calling together groups using gendered terms (such as girls etc), and to use the students’ names instead of pronouns.
“They just have to be aware of the problem,” and “earn how to better address the students”, concluded Sandbye.
Some think it’s progress, others think it’s a ‘violation policy’
Earlier this month, the pro-rector of the university, Bente Stallknecht, stated: “The University of Copenhagen has a special responsibility for ensuring an inclusive and heterogeneous workplace.”
But despite the supportive gesture, the KU students have differing opinions.
“Many are in a vulnerable position. I think it’s nice to give them a hand,” applauded Mike Gudbergsen, the chair of the student council at KU.
However, another student, Victor Kipp, said that he thought it was “confusing” and would be “a major interference in teaching”.
“The idea that the teacher should know all the names of 60-80 people is too much,” added Jonas Raabel Jensen, who called the advice a “violation policy”.
Nevertheless, the management of the faculty is in support of the initiative.
“Especially among the younger generations, something is happening at the moment. They have a different mindset,” vice-dean Jens Erik Mogensen told Berlingske.
“And since we are primarily educating young people, we have to enter those discourses, and one of them is the issue concerning binary and nonbinary.”