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Berkeley Is Ditching All Its 'Manholes'

They'll be 'maintenance holes' under new language rules
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 19, 2019 10:24 AM CDT
Pedestrians walk past a manhole cover for a sewer in Berkeley, Calif., Thursday, July 18, 2019.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

(Newser) – There will be no manholes in Berkeley, California. City workers will drop into "maintenance holes" instead. Nothing will be manmade in the liberal city but "human-made." And students at the University of California, Berkeley, will join "collegiate Greek system residences" rather than fraternities and sororities. Berkeley leaders voted unanimously this week to replace about 40 gender-specific words in the city code with gender-neutral terms—an effort to be more inclusive that's drawing both praise and scorn, per the AP. That means "manpower" will become "human effort" or "workforce," while masculine and feminine pronouns like "she," ''her," ''he," and "him" will be replaced by "they" and "them," according to the measure approved Tuesday by the City Council.

The San Francisco Bay Area city is known for its long history of progressive politics. Rigel Robinson, who graduated from UC Berkeley last year and at 23 is the youngest member of the City Council, said it was time to change a municipal code that makes it sound like "men are the only ones that exist in entire industries or that men are the only ones on city government." "As society and our cultures become more aware about issues of gender identity and gender expression, it's important that our laws reflect that," said Robinson, who co-authored the measure. When the changes take effect in the fall, all city forms will be updated and lists with the old words and their replacements will be posted at public libraries and the council chambers. The changes will cost taxpayers $600, Robinson said.


(Read more Berkeley stories.)

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