Student Senate discusses pronouns, gender diversity


Rob Le Cates

Tanya Willard, Coordinator for the Gender and Sexual Diversity Center, presents a slideshow on what pronouns are and how to use them during the Wednesday Student Government meeting.

Ethan Schobernd, Campus Reporter

Eastern’s Student Government welcomed a guest speaker to discuss pronouns and gender diversity to the student senators on Wednesday at 7th Street Underground.

After calling the meeting to order and roll call, Executive Vice President and Interim-Speaker of the Senate Report, Payton Ade, introduced the guest speaker, Tanya Willard.

Willard is the coordinator for the Gender and Sexual Diversity Center, also known as the GSD Center, which is in the lower level of Stevenson Hall.

She addressed the importance of pronouns as identifiers and the fact that pronouns act as a method of affirmation for an individual.

Willard also stated that everyone has pronouns, there is not a specific group of people that are the only ones with pronouns.

“Let’s not think for one moment that trans people are the only people that have pronouns,” Willard said. “We all have pronouns, not just trans people.”

When it comes to pronouns, Willard said that some people have preferred pronouns as well and encouraged others not to assume another person’s pronouns. She wanted them to appropriately learn about another person’s pronouns without making anyone uncomfortable.

She also said that pronouns may vary for people from day to day, or even years later.

According to Willard, pronouns may differ according to environment and who somebody is around.

Tanya also stated that messing up pronouns is bound to happen at least once.

“It’s not a matter of if you’re gonna mess it up, but when you mess it up,” Willard said. “Because we’re all probably gonna mess it up.”

Willard discusses what to do when somebody accidentally misgenders another person by using the wrong pronouns.

The speaker also addressed the different types of pronouns, along with some that are newer to society.

The “neo-pronouns” she introduced are as follows: ze/zir/zirs, ze/hir/hirs and xe/xem/xyrself.

After introducing the different types of pronouns, Willard passed out pieces of paper that included a made-up individual’s name and pronouns. People with pieces of paper had to construct a sentence with the person’s pronouns. This activity was to teach others how to properly use the different types of pronouns.

Willard announced that October 20 is International Pronoun Day and the GSD Center will be tabling outside Doudna, passing out pronoun buttons.

Blanca Vilella, a junior political science major and senator of the Student Senate, talked about how she felt about Willard’s presentation.

“I loved it,” Vilella said. “I feel like I was raised in such an accepting household and when I was little, I was always so confused on what I wanted to be or who I wanted to be. So, I like that it’s bringing more light to this and letting people know that we’re open about pronouns, and they’re allowed to be open to stuff about that.”

She also learned more about pronouns from the presentation.

“I did learn a couple new pronouns, like ze, and stuff like that, which is shocking because I’ve never heard of it,” said Vilella.

Kate Alexander, a senior political science major and student senator, talked about how she learned about the “neo-pronouns” from the presentation.

“I learned a lot, but I actually didn’t know which I was surprised about because I’m up to date on some common courtesies but not on the full list of pronouns,” Alexander said. “I wasn’t aware of the additional ones that are newer.”

Payton Ade, a sophomore political science and history major and member of the Student Senate board, talked about the speaker and what they thought about the presentation.

“Well, I’ve actually had multiple conversations with Tanya,” Ade said. “The pronunciations of some of the neo-pronouns are something I need to work on myself. So, it’s always a good refreshment and it’s always a good refreshment on correcting people’s pronouns.”

After Willard concluded her presentation, Ade proceeded the meeting and addressed that there was no old business and no new business.

The adviser report and graduate adviser report included congratulating the new senators and welcoming them onto Student Senate.

Executive reporters gave their own announcements and updates regarding the subjects covered from their last meeting. Some of which include the open positions on committees, the need for more members of student government to meet quorum, different programs that have been addressed in their previous meeting and the possibility of forming constitutional revision and bylaw revision committees.

Ade addressed the possibility of creating constitutional revision and bylaw revision committees.

“Douglas Hall renaming committee, make your voices heard that there’s a student body,” Ade said. “If anybody wants Douglas Hall renamed, I do try my hardest to get it renamed and you will have my vote of the student body.”

As for announcements, Anne Flaherty, Vice President of Student Affairs, encourages students to submit their vaccination status to avoid a $150 fine.

Senator Ade also added to this issue.

“Students, get vaccinated on campus,” Ade said, “You don’t want to pay a bunch of money to the university for not getting vaccinated or not getting tested. If you want to get vaccinated, they have vaccine clinics every Tuesday at the health clinic. Go to the health clinic, get vaccinated, it’s not that hard.”

Ethan Schobernd can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].