On Thursday afternoon, Professor Gloria Escalante’s Spanish 2 class sat through their first midterm of the quarter, struggling to remember the proper use of the imperfect and situations which called for the formal “usted”. Though most students wouldn’t consider a second-level Spanish test particularly difficult, Escalante’s exam included an unorthodox demand: the conjugation of verbs with preferred gender pronouns.
Escalante, a bisexual who identifies with the pronoun “hir,” believes that forcing hir students to memorize verb conjugations for multiple alternative gender pronouns is the best way to get students acclimated to the higher concepts of gender theory and creates a wider safe zone for people such as hirself.
“Most students enter college with little or no background in gender fluidity, leaving the queer community at the mercy of their ignorance,” said Escalante. “Since I ask my students to memorize Spanish conjugations for the myriad gender pronouns within the LGBTQIA spectrum, they are getting sensitivity training whether they like it or not.”
Escalante’s addition comprised of approximately twelve extra pronouns per verb to the conjugational sections of hir examinations, followed by an essay prompting the student to mediate situations in which queers are victimized. Many of hir students view the extra work as an immense and tedious chore.
“I conjugated ‘llamarse’ in the preterite, future, and imperative tense, and it took me forty five minutes,” said second year Jordan Bloom after failing to complete Escalante’s midterm. “If this is supposed to make me more sensitive to queer issues, it isn’t working—now I just really hate those people.”
Within days, queer interest groups across campus got wind of the exam and expressed their unanimous support. “Having already asserted my pronoun preference to every single English speaker I’ve ever encountered, I’m glad Professor Escalante is offering me and my peers a chance to do the same for Spanish speakers,” said transgender student and FUQIT member Morgan Fisher. “Now I can stop bitching at my gardener for calling me “ella.”
Still, the austerity of Escalante’s demands has shaken numerous students, queers included. Pangender first year Alex Lucynski told reporters that he believes the drastic workload increase is too high a price for social equality.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for queer rights and a wider safe zone, but I already have a hard time remembering how to conjugate for ‘vosotros,’” said Lucynski. “Expecting students to remember how to use ‘ze,’ ‘ou,’ ‘co,’ ‘ey,’ ‘per,’ ‘jee,’ ‘ve,’ ‘xe,’ or ‘mer’ is a nightmare I wouldn’t bestow on anybody, no matter how cisgendered or ignorant they may be.”
“Oh shit, I almost forgot ‘thon,’” added Lucynski, sighing with relief. “That would have been really offensive.”
Despite the unpopularity of the midterm, Escalante plans to include preferred gender pronouns on the final exam, which will take place, as usual, on a Saturday morning.