Graham Walks Back Policy on Pronouns

Feb. 18, 2021 — Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU) received a directive from the Bureau of Indian Education containing new bureau guidelines regarding email signatures, practicable at the discretion of HINU president, Ronald Graham, EdD. In addition to the included template, the directive said, “Please refrain from including quotes or other personal messages as part of the signature section.” Graham then instructed HINU faculty to comply with these new guidelines, in addition stating that they should, “remove things like she/her/etc”.

Following Graham’s instruction to implement the new policy, Vice President of Academic Affairs Melanie Daniel emailed her staff, “I am not in favor of this, but it is a BIE directive. Please ensure ALL faculty and Academic staff receives and complies with the policy.”

Acknowledging the faculty opposition that followed the directive, Graham later walked back his decision to exclude pronouns from faculty email signatures. Daniel told faculty, “[M]any of you expressed extreme opposition to the directive, specifically involving the use of pronouns.  One of the characteristics I admire about Dr. Graham is his willingness to listen to opinions in opposition to him and to reconsider an action.  Accordingly, Dr. Graham rescinded the requirement to exclude pronouns.”

Many faculty and staff had previously been using pronouns in their email signatures, including Tonia Salvini, Vice President of University Services; Julia Good Fox, Dean of the College of Natural and Social Sciences; and David Titterington, adjunct Art Instructor. When asked why pronouns are important, Titterington said, “I use pronouns to be inclusive”.

Graham did not respond to a request for comment regarding his initial decision or his later reconsideration.

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