My husband and I graduated from Ithaca College in 2009. Recently, a letter arrived from the Ithaca College Annual Fund addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. William Sims.” In over a year of marriage, I had not received any mail reducing my identity to “Mrs. William.” Sadly, Ithaca College was the first. I find this to be rather offensive.
You might be thinking, “Who cares? It’s not a huge deal.” And you’re right; it’s not a huge deal. You might be thinking that by changing my last name that I’m “asking for it.” That’s where you’re wrong. Fifty years ago, whether or not women changed their names upon marriage was not a choice. Last year, I chose to change my name.
Ithaca College made a choice to send a letter to “Mr. and Mrs. William Sims,” and it was a bad choice. I don’t buy that it was a mistake to blame on software. Here’s some mass mailing options that equally acknowledge multiple people on one letter: William and Becky Sims; Mr. and Mrs. Sims; The Sims Family. IC could even send two letters to two alumni who are each capable of independent financial decision making!
This type of addressing may not offend everyone the way it offends me. But I’m pretty sure that addressing mail (particularly fundraising mail) in a manner that identifies men and women equally will not offend anyone.
I hope that this serves as an opportunity for fundraisers, students, professors, alumni, and administrators to start a conversation and take a closer look at how one’s choice of words can diminish and eliminate women.
It’s 2014, Ithaca College. I know you can do better.