Lawmakers May Punish A University For Being Too Politically Correct

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Blake Neff Reporter
Font Size:

Lawmakers in Tennessee are promising to bring the state’s flagship college to heel after it grabbed headlines for telling students to use more “gender-neutral pronouns.”

The hoopla started at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (UT) when the school’s Pride Center director Donna Braquet posted an online guide on what pronouns to use to refer to people. The guide noted that some people, rather than going by “he” or “she,” may prefer to go by one of “dozens” of gender-neutral pronouns, such as “ze” or “xe.” The guide suggested that professors should ask for preferred pronouns when calling roll, encouraged people to add their “preferred pronoun” when introducing themselves, and even suggested that simply asking strangers for their pronoun was a good policy. (RELATED: Orwell’s Newspeak Is Coming To A Campus Near You)

While the guide was taken down following public backlash, some state lawmakers say its very existence is a call to action. On Thursday, 32 Tennessee lawmakers sent a letter to UT’s board of trustees condemning the pronoun crusade as a ludicrous waste of money.

“Sadly, our University is clearly entertaining a tool of the left – critical theory – which is a philosophy that involves being critical of the prevailing view of history, society, government and economics,” the letter says. “The overall effort is designed to move forward a political agenda, and advance social changes advocated by a small minority. However, it is clearly improper to use the resources of this institution in this manner … We need to focus 100% on creating productive people in society, and not filling them with philosophies of empty deceit.” (RELATED: Harvard Now Lets Students Choose What Pronoun They Want)

Lawmakers don’t plan to stop with mere letters, though. On Friday, the Times Free Press reported that members of the state Senate are also planning two days of hearings on the matter. Ron Ramsey, the Senate’s Republican speaker, has warned that if UT doesn’t “resolve” the matter soon, “the legislature will most certainly weigh in when we return in January.”

“Am I upset? Absolutely. This is just silliness that state tax payer dollars are paying somebody to decide that people shouldn’t be called he or she any longer,” Ramsey said, according to WJHL News.

UT officials have tried to assuage lawmakers by releasing statements saying that the pronoun guide was merely a series of suggestions and didn’t reflect official university policy, but that rhetoric hasn’t been enough to stop calls for action. State Sen. Bo Watson, argued that regardless of why the post was created, its creation reflects a “loss of institutional control.”

Just what sort of action lawmakers might take against UT is unclear for the time being, but it could involve threats to its funding or a prohibition on certain kinds of spending.

The pronoun spat wasn’t the first issue at UT this year to rile up lawmakers. Several unsuccessfully attempted to block the school’s recent decision to drop the popular “Lady Volunteers” nickname for its women’s teams in every sport save basketball.

Follow Blake on Twitter

Send tips to

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact

Tags : tennessee
Blake Neff