The Student Services Council and the Students’ Representative Council have both passed a motion to update language in their Constitution to fit current practice.
The minor changes included updating “himself/herself” to read “they”, reflecting the commitment of the University to equality in their five year strategy.
In this strategy, a commitment to a diverse St Andrews is laid out, saying, “There is evidence that shows that diverse organisations work smarter, encourage innovation, and maximise the creativity that is fundamental to academic excellence.
“Our approach to diversity and inclusion will therefore foster an environment that enables staff and students to engage with intellectual challenges while realising their own potential.”
The amendment was one of many changes made at the meetings, and reads as follows: “On page 5, point 8, there is a sentence reading ‘he/she will recuse himself/herself’. This text should be amended to read ‘that person will recuse themselves.’”
Parker Hansen, LGBT Officer for the University, spoke to The Saint, saying, “When I saw the proposed motion, I was happy see that one of them was to update ‘himself/herself’ to read ‘they’ in a couple of places.
“I’m proud to see that this motion was passed, both because it reads much more smoothly, and because we at the Students’ Association strive to be as inclusive as possible.”
Nick Farrer, Director of Wellbeing, echoed Mr Hansen’s remarks, saying, “The singular ‘they’ is much, much tidier than what existed beforehand. It’s also inclusive of anyone who doesn’t identify with the labels ‘himself/ herself’.
“My opinion is that it’s important that the constitution matches current practice and is inclusive.”
The University of St Andrews is not the first university to take such measures, as the use of gender-neutral language has become standard practice across many universities in the United Kingdom.