It was a surprisingly popular word at UNM last year, according to a recent report from dictionary.com. Searches on the word occur more frequently from campus than any other, according to a list released by the website that named the most searched words at 25 universities across the country. The data was determined through zip code matches.
While some students may be looking up exact definitions, the list shows that campuses are affected by a diverse range of issues.
“While many searches from college students look at words you’d expect to see for homework or research, such as ‘effect’ and ‘affect,’ we saw vastly different searches from students once we drilled down on specific areas of the country,” said Michele Turner, CEO of dictionary.com, in a press release. “This shows that the issues affecting each campus are very different.”
The words ranged from “cauliflower” at Boise State University to “blithe” at Stanford University and “Judeo-Christian” at University of Notre Dame.
UNM was the only school in New Mexico on the list and the numerical count of searches for each word was not indicated. After “suffrage,” UNM’s most searched words were “ironically,” “autonomy,” “malignant” and “critical thinking.”
Cathleen Cahill, an associate history professor, said she appreciates it when students seek their own answers to definition questions.
“As a historian and someone who is actually studying suffrage, I’m excited that people are showing an interest,” she said.
Cahill hypothesized that students are searching for “suffrage” because the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment becoming part of the U.S. Constitution is coming up in 2020. That amendment granted women the right to vote.
The anniversary of the Woman Suffrage Procession, the first suffragist march in Washington D.C., also recently passed in 2013. That was the opening shot in the battle of feminists working toward a Constitutional amendment rather than continuing to work the state-by-state approach they had been using, Cahill said.
Students could be discussing these events as well as suffrage in general in various classes. However, professors of history, political science, women’s studies and sociology were unable to respond on the topic.
“Interesting things were happening 100 years ago about suffrage that would parallel people Googling it... but the story is more complicated in New Mexico than in other states,” Cahill said.
Before the ratification of the 19th amendment, women in New Mexico could vote for the state superintendent of education and some women even held the office. Nina Otero-Warren, a suffragist from Los Lunas, was one of those women.
Marielle Dent is a staff reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Marielle_Dent.