Gender Guidelines Are Step in Right Direction

Zoe Kim, Staff Writer

Since Spring 2022, Villanova University has let its students put their pronouns in their Banner 

accounts, as they would show up in class schedules and all University communication to them. Since then, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has come out with a “Gender Inclusive Practices Guide” in conjunction with the Gender and Women’s Studies Department. 

It was written in the hopes of cultivating an inclusive community within Villanova, its classrooms, laboratories and workplaces. It asks the questions: How can we cultivate gender-inclusive teaching and work environments? How can we invite full participation from people of all genders and respond to the harmful effects of gender stereotyping and misgendering? There are six suggestions that are said to be not comprehensive but form a good introductory step. These suggestions have been put into place in the classroom. This semester, professors have put gender statements in their syllabus and have asked students for their pronouns as a part of their introductions. 

This is a major leap forward for Villanova, as it is accepting of the changes that are happening in the world. Students have wanted this out of Villanova and are pleased by this. The task of asking students their pronouns is simple and necessary for all students to have a sense that they are welcomed and respected.

Other universities have responded to their students’ needs for gender inclusivity, as well. University of Notre Dame is going in a similar direction for its students. Though there is no policy in place for its students, the South Bend school has taken steps for a welcoming community. It has an advisory committee for LGBTQ+ students, with appointed students and staff. The advisory committee does not put out policy nor does it serve as a governing body for the university, but it is a great step. Its Diversity and Inclusion website reads: “We welcome all people, regardless of color, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, social or economic class, and nationality, for example, precisely because of Christ’s calling to treat others as we desire to be treated.” Having an advisory committee similar to this for LGBTQ+ students would give students a chance to be represented in a community where they have not been before. 

However, there has been a greater public response to it. One of which was an article by Fox News, in which Catholic commentator John Monaco said that it was “shameful” of Villanova. He said that this was “an episode of a Catholic university nodding along to zeitgeist,” and that Villanova was striving for “public acceptance and elite metrics.” 

After reading this, I was disappointed that the practice guide was seen as Villanova seeking “acceptance” rather than an effort to support all of its students. There is no doubt that the “Gender Inclusive Practices Guide” is going to greatly serve students within the transgender, non-binary, gender noncomfoming and/or gender questioning community. 

But more can and should be done. Compared to other universities in the United States, Villanova is coming up short. There needs to be more of an effort for them to cater to students’ backgrounds and values. It is for the greater good of Villanova that a gender inclusivity policy is put in place. Villanovans, whether they be transgender, nonbinary or gender non-conforming, should be treated with respect and regard for their gender. It is not an abuse of its beliefs to ask students for their pronouns. Rather, it is a way of welcoming a student’s own beliefs. 

As it reads, it is a part of the Augustinian values– Veritas, Unitas and Caritas– that Villanova respects students of differing faiths and values. Villanova cannot say that Unitas is one of its values if it is not courteous towards students’ genders.