Pronoun Policy

Policy Update (12.16.2020)


Otis College of Art and Design is committed to fostering an inclusive campus that values self-expression and respect for the variety of communities it serves. The College recognizes each community member’s gender pronouns, which may be the pronoun or set of pronouns that an individual would like others to use when talking to or about them.  Students may update their pronouns through the Personal Information page in Student Self Service.  Please note that this will update your pronoun in your student record. It will NOT allow the College to update your pronouns in the Nest.  Click here for instructions on how to update your pronouns on the Nest.

It is a firm expectation that Otis community members recognize and use an individual’s pronouns and preferred first names when that information has been provided to them. Pronouns and preferred first names should be used whenever speaking with, or referring to, any member of the Otis College community who has indicated such a preference.

Mistakes may happen, and in those situations, we encourage individuals to apologize, and rephrase what they were saying or asking. However, intentionally using incorrect pronouns to refer to someone, or refusing to acknowledge an individual’s pronouns or name, may constitute a violation of the College’s Non Discriminaton Policy. Referring to people using the wrong pronouns, especially on purpose, is disrespectful and can lead to feelings of alienation, exclusion, and overall dysphoria, and community members should not hesitate to report such behavior using the College’s Bias Incident Report Form.

Common Questions

How can I let others know what my pronoun is?

Here are two suggestions:

  1. When you meet someone for the first time, introduce yourself and include your pronoun.  “Hi, I’m Andrea, and I use they/theirs.”  Or, “Nice to meet you.  I’m Dave, and I use him/his.”
  2.  Include your pronouns in your email signature:
    1. Pat Johnson
      CommArts/Graphic Design Junior

How do you know which pronouns a person prefers?

Correctly using a person’s pronoun is an important way to show respect for their identity.  Try asking: “What pronouns do you use?” or “Can you remind me what pronouns you use?”  The person you are speaking with will feel respected.

For faculty:  How can I use this information in how I address my students at Otis?

Here’s a suggestion:

On the first day of class, share your own pronoun and preferred name and:

“Hi, everyone.  My preferred first name is Lenny, and my last name is Huckleberry.  My pronouns are he-him.”

During initial introductions or first taking of attendance, ask students to share:

  1. Their preferred first name
  2. Their last name
  3. Their pronouns

And of course, document this on your roster, and address your students as they indicated.

What if I make a mistake?  What if I use “her” instead of “they”, for example.  It can be hard to remember!

Mistakes are going to happen!  Apologize, and rephrase what you were saying or asking.  The person you are speaking with or about will appreciate it. It's okay to acknowledge you made a mistake and restate what you meant to say or what pronoun you meant to use. 

You can also say "thank you" when you are corrected by the person about their pronoun. Saying "thank you for correcting me," can go a long way and allows an affirming space.