The Wall Street Journal has an interesting story about a high school student receiving her acceptance letter from Brown University. Normally, given the exclusiveness of the Ivy League school, this would be a happy occasion. However, WSJ reports, there was something odd about the letter:
Oddly, the note referred to the accepted student not as “she” but as “they.” Dean Powell’s letter also stated that our reader’s daughter had no doubt worked hard and made positive contributions to “their” school and community. Our reader reports that his perplexed family initially thought that Brown had made a word-processing error. That was before they listened to a voice mail message from the school congratulating his daughter and referring to her as “them.”
We’ve read about the literacy crisis in the U.S. but would not have guessed that the problem extends to Ivy League administrators. An item on Brown’s website announcing Mr. Powell’s 2016 hiring reported that he had previously served at Bowdoin, Harvard and Princeton—and also noted that he would be overseeing a staff of 38 people at Brown. One would think that at least some of them are familiar with pronouns.
It turns out that the errors were intentional. Brown spokesman Brian Clark writes in an email that “our admission office typically refers to applicants either by first name or by using ‘they/their’ pronouns. While the grammatical construction may read as unfamiliar to some, it has been adopted by many newsrooms and other organizations as a gender-inclusive option.”
Bertrand Russell wrote, "This is one of those views which are so absurd that only very learned men could possibly adopt them." We would caution any student intent on attending Brown to avoid the English Department as it is clear that the university's contempt for the language has led to its corruption and the ignorance of school administrators.