“Preferred Name” feature furthers inclusion efforts

Sasha Weilbaker, Staff Writer

Associate Provost Robert Midkiff sent an email to the student body on Aug. 25 requesting that students set their preferred name through Banner Web. This preferred name can be the same or different from a student’s legal name.

The goal of setting a preferred name is to “make sure that all students are known by the name that feels most comfortable to them,” Midkiff said. This can include common abbreviations, full names, or preferred names that are very different from one’s legal name.

Although the opportunity to provide the University with a preferred name through Banner Web has been available for several years, the “Dear Colleague” letter, issued by the Department of Justice and Department of Education in May of this year, recommended that educational facilities provide more inclusive environments for transgender students. This recommendation refers to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, commonly known just as Title IX, which prohibits “sex discrimination in educational programs and activities.”

Regarding the recent email from Midkiff, the University’s Title IX coordinator Kathleen Grimes said that the administration “wanted to ensure that students were aware of the opportunity” to provide the University with their preferred name.

“I have friends who are part of the transgender community and who always have to email professors beforehand explaining their situation and requesting the professors call them by a different name. I would expect this task to be a pain, and perhaps even something that put me into a spotlight I would rather avoid,” Alexander Murph ’18 said.

As for preferred pronoun usage, there is currently no mechanism in the student information system that allows students to indicate preferred pronouns.

“[As the administration] considers updates in student information technology, we will be including this topic and others in our deliberations,” Midkiff said.

The full “Dear Colleague” letter can be found on the website of the U.S. Department of Education.

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