UT-Austin students include pronouns on screen to help foster inclusive environment

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Photo Credit: Nat Hadaway | Daily Texan Staff

Virtual learning programs allow students to display their pronouns during classes and extracurricular activities, which some students hope becomes a widespread practice.

Elyzia Mustafa, a psychology and international relations and global studies junior, said their professors do not require pronouns to be visible during virtual meetings, so most students do not list their pronouns.

“It’s kind of off-putting when only a few people have their pronouns in their Zoom name, because then I feel isolated as someone who uses she/they pronouns,” Mustafa said. 

Mustafa said the ability to list pronouns online makes them feel more secure in a virtual classroom setting.

"It feels nice to have that kind of visibility and that security of knowing that if someone is looking at my screen or that needs to talk to me, they will see my pronouns," Mustafa said.

 

Beth Bukoski, educational leadership and policy associate professor of practice, said she includes a section in her syllabus and a slide in her introductory presentation where she addresses using pronouns. Bukoski said she lists her pronouns in her display name on Zoom, but she allows her students to choose whether or not they want to display their pronouns.

“The important thing is to open up space where people feel like they can enter that space as they want to enter it,” Bukoski said.

Isaac Mackzum, a member of The Guides of Texas, said most guides have included their pronouns during virtual campus tours, which helps foster an inclusive environment for prospective students.

“Our boss told us that she received a comment from a visiting student that seeing all the guides’ pronouns made them more comfortable and excited about coming to UT,” said Mackzum, a marketing and Spanish senior.

Mustafa said professors can help students feel included by encouraging people to display their pronouns.

“I don’t think it would hurt for professors to maybe remind students at the beginning of class every once in a while to make sure their pronouns are visible,” Mustafa said. “This way everyone is referred to correctly, and transgender and nonbinary students aren’t singled out as not being cisgender.”

Mackzum said he hopes more students will start listing their pronouns during classes because it helps normalize the practice.  

“If we can do something as simple as taking five seconds to add our pronouns, and that action makes someone else feel seen, validated, safe or more comfortable, why wouldn’t we?” Mackzum said.