Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Blob at University of Tennessee tells staff and students to stop using 'he' and 'she' - and switch to 'xe', 'zir' and 'xyr' instead

The University of Tennessee has told its staff and students to stop calling each other 'he', 'she', 'him' and 'her' - and to start referring to one another with terms like 'xe', 'zir' and 'xyr' instead.

The Knoxville branch of the public university, which has 27,400 students, sent a memo round to its members filled with unusual new parts of speech to avoid referring to anybody's gender.

According to a gay rights official at the university, the new language regime will make the university 'welcoming and inclusive' and stop people feeling 'marginalized'.

The university published the instructions on its website on Wednesday after they were emailed to every member of the university by the institution's Vice Chancellor for Diversity.

Officials have since insisted the the guidelines are not compulsory and that they do not want to 'dictate speech'.

Donna Braquet, who runs the university's Pride Center, wrote the guidelines, which are accompanied with a long table demonstrating how to replace the regular parts of speech.

She also advises staff members not to call roll in class, and to instead greet every student by asking them to announce their name and pronoun of preference.

Instead of 'he' and 'she', Braquet suggests four alternatives.  One is the commonplace strategy of using 'they', 'them' and 'their' for individuals rather than groups.

She also suggests 'ze' and 'xe' - both pronounced 'zhee' - and a variety of secondary conjugations to be used for anybody who rejects the traditional gender binary.

Barquet argues that if everybody follows her instructions, campus will become 'more inclusive'.  She wrote: 'When our organizational culture shifts to where asking for chosen names and pronouns is the standard practice, it alleviates a heavy burden for persons already marginalized by their gender expression or identity.'

There is no information on the numbers of students on campus who do not identify as the traditional genders, as the university's official data only recognizes male and female.

In an interview with DailyMail.com, Rickey Hall, the university's vice chancellor for diversity, said he was 'ancedotally' aware of students on campus who reject traditional gender divisions.

After a backlash from critics who called the proposals 'ridiculous' and 'absurd', the university clarified that nobody would be forced into using the terms.

In an interview with Fox News commentator Todd Starnes, Tennessee state senator Mae Beavers, a Republican, said: 'It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.  'If you must interview a student before you greet the student, that’s not acceptance – that’s just absurd.'

A statement from a university spokesman said: 'We would like to offer clarification of the statements that have been made referring to gender-neutral language.  'There is no mandate or official policy to use the language. The information provided in our Office of Diversity and Inclusion newsletter was offered as a resource to our campus community on inclusive practices. 'We recognize that most people prefer to use the pronouns he and she; we do not dictate speech.

'We do strive to be a diverse and inclusive campus and to ensure that everyone feels welcome, accepted, and respected.'


Viral Education Falls Flat

A video featuring the head of the History Department at the U.S. Military Academy recently “went viral” on social media. That fact offers a sad commentary on the state of intellectual discussion and critical thinking in today’s culture. The colonel, who appeared in uniform and identified himself as a West Point faculty member, delivers a three-minute speech that purports to “settle once and for all” the question of whether the War Between the States was fought over slavery.

Aside from the dangers of relying on social media as a source for academic insights, the post highlights a disturbing trend that both ends of the political spectrum are perpetuating. Much like the climate change alarmists who argue that “the science is settled” and that no reasonably intelligent person could believe the changes are being driven by anything other than humans, the ostensibly conservative organization under whose banner the colonel appears apparently wants us to believe that we should stop thinking for ourselves because someone else — who at first glance appears reputable and authoritative — has done the thinking for us.

Regardless of whether we accept or reject his thesis (and his credentials), we should reject his sponsor’s and other media outlets' position that only “idiots” could possibly arrive at a different conclusion than their favored view.

The idea that anyone could definitively answer in three minutes a question that scholars have dedicated volumes to for well over a century should be laughable, but the earnest responses from a large number of viewers and hundreds of thousands of “shares” may be indicators of just how far we’ve fallen.

Perhaps even more disturbing is that an organization that purports to be a “University” and a senior leader from our nation’s military academy both support this attack on reasoned discussion and critical thought. The essence of education is teaching students to collect and analyze evidence, apply logic and develop conclusions, not telling them they’re stupid if they don’t see it their professor or institution’s way.


Here's What Students Think of Michelle Obama's School Lunches

Public schools are continuing to serve the federally mandated fruits and vegetables, but a new study claims the fresh produce is going into trash cans more than tummies.

Since 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has implemented a requirement – widely championed by First Lady Michelle Obama – that children must select either a fruit or vegetable for school lunches subsidized by the federal government. However, a new report published this week by researchers at the University of Vermont found that even though students did add more fruits and vegetables to their plates, as the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act” enforces, “children consumed fewer [fruits and vegetables] and wasted more during the school year immediately following implementation of the USDA rule.”

The report, entitled “Impact of the National School Lunch Program on Fruit and Vegetable Selection,” noted that average waste increased from a quarter cup to more than one-third of a cup per tray. Observing students at two northeastern elementary schools during more than 20 visits to each, researchers took photos of students’ trays after they chose their items, as they were exiting the lunch line and again as they went by the garbage cans.

“The architects of the Act want their children and schoolchildren across America to eat healthy, hearty meals," Joe Colangelo, director of the product testing and consumer advocacy organization Consumers’ Research, told FoxNews.com. "Unfortunately, our government does not have a perfect record of influencing the eating habits of American citizens.”


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