If you have ever taken a look at the Iowa State website, sat through a student government meeting or looked at the bulletin boards in the Memorial Union, you are aware of the university's “Six Principles of Community.” These are the values that are supposed to be adhered to by all students and staff, the first of which is respect. However, just because the university tries to foster these values does not mean that its students and student organizations necessarily follow.
A few days ago, the College Republicans at Iowa State tweeted, “If you have pronouns in bio, I assume you’re either a social reject or mentally ill.”
This tweet is disrespectful and ignorant in so many ways. First of all, phrases like ‘social reject’ and ‘mentally ill’ are dehumanizing terms that are both politically incorrect and disregard the experiences of the individual. It is especially hurtful to people who experience social anxiety, depression and feelings of isolation while at college. These are real struggles many students have, and joking about them is simply inconsiderate.
And that’s not even the main problem with this tweet.
The message posted by the College Republicans is beyond disrespectful to people who are nonbinary/genderqueer. It implies that these people, as well as those who support them, are somehow ‘unwell’ or lesser than others. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Frankly, pronouns aren’t a 'preference.' They are an integral part of a person’s identity that needs to be respected. Offering your pronouns — regardless of if you identify as nonbinary or cisgender — invites others to do the same, which fosters an attitude of acceptance.
I call on Iowa State University's President Wendy Wintersteen and the Office of Equal Opportunity to pursue disciplinary measures against the author(s) of this tweet. This message clearly goes against the principles of community that the university claims to hold dear. Free speech is one thing, but the targeted and disdainful message of hate coming from a university-affiliated organization is unacceptable. It goes against Iowa State's Student Code of Conduct, which per university policy must be followed by all Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs).
Let’s normalize pronouns. Let’s normalize offering them when introducing yourself, in your Zoom name display, in your email signature and in your social media biographies. It’s easy and it costs you nothing.
Let’s be clear: having your pronouns in your social media bio does not make you a social reject or a person who is mentally ill. It makes you a socially conscious, empathetic individual who shows that they care about and respect the identities of others. It’s really the very least we can do.
Abigail Meehan is a student at Iowa State University.