CUNY’s Graduate Center Stops Using ‘Mr.’ and ‘Ms.” on Official Correspondence


The City University of New York has decided to discontinue use of titles such as “Mr.” and “Ms.” when sending out correspondence to students attending the university’s Graduate Center. This change is being made in an attempt to be more gender inclusive and sensitive to the students who wish to go by something other than their legal name.

The change was announced on January 16 in a memo sent to the Graduate Center by interim Provost Louise Lennihan. The memo stated that this new policy was coming into effect as an “ongoing effort to ensure a respectful, welcoming and gender-inclusive learning environment…and to accommodate properly the diverse population of current and prospective students.”

Students are able to fill out a form if they wish to change the way in which they are named on various communications from the university, emails and campus identification cards.

Some members of the Graduate Center faculty have expressed some concern over the new policy and feel as though they are being told what they can and cannot say to students. The university has said that the assumptions of the faculty are not true, however.

They say that the new policy does not mean they are unable to use courtesy titles at all when sending email messages to students or when addressing them in class, according to The Huffington Post.

Some professor at the graduate center believe that the new courtesy title policy was to be applied to all interactions had with students, whether they were of the written or verbal variety.

Linguistics professor, Juliette Belvins, told the Wall Street Journal “My interpretation was that I was being asked to adhere to this policy, as were the other professors who received the letter.”

President of the Graduate Center, Chase F. Robinson, sent a statement to The Huffington Post standing by the original memo sent out and stressing that no restrictions were actually placed on the Graduate Center’s faculty. “The memo that issued on January 16 was intended to provide guidance to administrators in addressing members of the community; as such, it offered advice and did not set, not does it reflect, CUNY policy,” he said.

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