Students at the University of Cape Town (UCT) can now choose to be Miss‚ Ms‚ Mrs‚ Mr‚ Mx or have no title at all.
Vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng announced on Wednesday that current and prospective students can now choose their titles.
The university said the decision was part of transformation and “building a culture of inclusivity”.
Phakeng said universities were microcosms of society and UCT wanted to help build a culture of inclusion and acceptance.
The option to choose titles is part of the university’s newly-adopted Inclusivity Policy for Sexual Orientation.
“This policy sets out guidelines to inform and educate UCT staff and students in terms of making appropriate choices on the use [of] terminology in teaching practice‚ communication‚ healthcare and administrative services.”
The policy applies to all staff‚ students‚ governance structures‚ societies‚ clubs and third parties who deliver any services to UCT.
The policy document defines “inclusive language” as the “use of gender non-specific language to avoid imposing the limiting assumption of heterosexuality and to present an open social climate for non-heterosexuals”.
“For example‚ instead of using language that assumes every household has a mother and a father‚ it would be more inclusive to refer to parent/s; or talk about diverse families‚ which will signal that heterosexual relationships are not the norm and that queer relationships or families are equally valid.”
Current students can also change their titles and will be issued with new students cards at no cost.
The University of the Witwatersrand took a decision earlier this year not to use titles such as Mr‚ Ms or Mrs to reflect a student’s designation in university correspondence and on its student systems.
Nico Gous- TimesLIVE