Scholar must leave tuition benefit behind

Dear Benny,
I would like to know if I can use my educational benefits at another university, such as St. Joseph's or Temple. The reason why I am asking is because my grade point average is not good enough for the College of General Studies, and I am prohibited from enrolling in another CGS class.

At the very least, I would like the chance to earn a liberal arts degree. And since I cannot earn one here, I wish to try elsewhere.
—Eager to Learn

Dear Scholar,
I’m glad to hear that you still want to pursue a liberal arts degree. After checking with Human Resources, I’m sorry to have to tell you that the staff tuition benefit can only be used for classes taken at Penn.

Dear Benny,
I see that in the Commencement program, the first line of “The Red and the Blue” has been changed to “Come all ye loyal classmates now.” Can you tell me when the lyrics were changed, and who changed them?
—Can’t Carry a Tune

Dear Off-Key,
Editorship has its privileges, it appears. According to Alison Rose, formerly a staff member in the Office of the Secretary, which oversees Commencement, the decision to change “classmen” to “classmates” came to former Secretary of the University Barbara Stevens when she noticed at an early 1990s Freshman Convocation that half the class was female. The gender-neutral term first appeared in the 1993 Commencement program.

Some may call this political correctness, but even though “men” may retain its older sense of standing for all people as a collective noun, the use of gender-neutral collective terms wherever possible has become accepted practice. What’s more, the men who wrote “The Red and the Blue” in the 1890s would probably not have used “classmen” themselves had there been women in the class, as the term was not considered gender-inclusive even then.

Got a question for Benny? Send it to the Current, 200 Sansom Place East, 3600 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104-6106 or e-mail it to current@pobox.upenn.edu.

Originally published on July 18, 2002