Bradley has started using the term “first-year” instead of “freshman” to describe students beginning their undergraduate degrees at the university.
Changing the terminology will take the form of switching official documents and marketing efforts from using “freshman” to “first-year,” which can already be seen on pages on the Bradley website.
The change in language came from the administration, as university president Stephen Standifird has used the term “first-year” since starting his role at Bradley, according to Emma Hoyhtya, speaker of the assembly for Student Senate.
“The reasoning behind it is ‘freshman’ is a gendered term and not necessarily as inclusive,” Hoyhtya, a senior management and leadership major, said.
Provost Walter Zakahi spoke about the administrative initiative at a Student Senate general assembly meeting on Monday. He has been working with marketing to make the change in terminology more formal, but this process will take time.
“First-year” will not be applied to transfer students and will not be dependent on the number of credits a student has when enrolling.
Hoyhtya added that the shift to “first-year” could clear up confusion about someone’s standing when starting at Bradley. For example, Hoyhtya enrolled with enough community college credits to have sophomore standing, but she was still a first-year student at the university.
Student Senate was the first to announce this change with an Instagram post after the administration asked the organization to release the information. Within a couple of hours, the post received several negative comments about Student Senate and the university from students.
Hoyhtya said the post was taken down so that the administration could structure an announcement and execution of the shift.
“We didn’t want that negative reaction to something that wasn’t necessarily [Student Senate’s] initiative in the first place,” Hoyhtya said. “We wanted to make sure that the administration could structure the announcement of this and the execution of it themselves so that we didn’t have any sort of negative impact on the way that this was perceived by students.”
Tony Adams, chairperson for the Department of Communication, is excited to hear about the change.
“I have worked at institutions [University of Edinburgh, Texas A&M, the University of Alabama, the Autonomous University of Aguascalientes and the Universidad de Santiago de Chile] for 20 years and have never worked somewhere that used the term ‘freshman’ until Bradley,” Adams said.
Zakahi said the administration will not be policing the language of students, faculty or staff, and no one will be reprimanded for using the term “freshman” rather than “first-year.”
Within Student Senate, students are exploring how the change in language affects the structure of the organization such as the titles of freshman, sophomore, junior and senior senators.
“My personal opinion is that it’s not necessarily going to change the campus in any super significant way,” Hoyhtya said. “Changes in verbiage like this are necessary and will come with time.”