What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

The AAWC changes her name with members’ input and support.

Wilson College’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, and especially to creating an environment that is welcoming and respectful to all of its students, is part of its heritage. As the AAWC Board considered the presence of men among the College’s students and graduates, as well as others for whom the issue of gender identity is not addressed by binary female/male language, we decided to consider if our Association’s use of a Latin word that referred specifically to a group of females might be in need of an update.

An ad hoc committee was formed, led by Janelle Wills and including members whose time at Wilson spanned many decades. They surveyed other formerly all-female colleges to see how they had handled the change in the composition of their students and graduates. They also solicited input from members of the AAWC and Erica Johnson, Ph.D., Wilson’s director of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. They presented their findings at a very interactive gathering at the Association’s Fall Weekend: The word most commonly used in the academic world and regarded as gender-neutral for identifying those who attended and graduated from a school is “alumni.”

“Alumni” was deemed what we would propose using in the title of the Association. The ad hoc committee presented its proposal to the Board, and it was accepted. Members of the Association were invited to consider a motion to amend the name of the AAWC to “Alumni Association of Wilson College.” In voting cast in advance of and at the Grand Reunion, in which 238 votes were cast, 151 votes were in favor of the motion, and 87 opposed it. Accordingly, the motion was passed.

– Lynne E. DiStasio ’74, President, Alumni Association of Wilson College

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