Benched Freshmen

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Pennsylvania State University will no longer use the terms “freshmen,” “sophomore,” “junior” or “senior” to distinguish grade level. These are gendered words and the school Senate voted them out.

Instead, students will be referred to by their year: first-year, second-year, and so on. “Underclassmen” and “upperclassmen” will be replaced by the terms “lower division” and “upper division.”

Before you roll your eyes about the cancel culture here, consider how simple this is and how little is lost. Research has shown that women score lower on standardized tests when they are asked to check a Male/Female box. Men do not. Language is powerful and reminding people of any rank or preference, past or present, has consequences. We expect this ranking nomenclature will become increasingly prevalent and we applaud it.

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