The Student Government Association passed a resolution last month requesting that students be allowed to submit a name change in the online Pathway system for roster purposes.
The preferred name policy is designed to benefit any student who does not go by his or her legal first name. This includes students who use their middle name, those who have an aversion to their first name or those who go by a nickname.
After submitting the request for a name change, a professor’s roster would reflect the name on Pathway. Name changes on student ID cards would work the same way.
Dean of Students Eric Grospitch said SGA approval could help lead to a decision on the resolution by Mel Tyler, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.
One concern that was presented during the SGA meeting was the possibility of abusing the preferred name policy for comedic purposes.
One SGA representative asked, “Is there anything stopping me from changing my name to ‘Big Daddy’?”
Although there would be no immediate rejection of this proposed name change, other institutions have procedures in place to maintain the integrity of the policy.
Another benefit of a preferred name policy is for transgender students who do not identify with their given name at birth.
“In regards to our trans students, a policy such as this helps foster a more inclusive environment for our students so they are not outed by or to faculty through roll call or some other student roster system,” said Jonathan Ta-Pryor, Coordinator of LGBTQIA Programs and Services.
According to the Transgender Law and Policy Institute, 70 other college campuses have already implemented or allow similar preferred name selection methods.
“I can only speculate about its abuse, which I would assume is minimal, but it can happen, and campuses have been explicit that any misuse of the policy may result in their preferred name request being denied,” Ta-Pryor said. “Moving towards this policy is a great step towards fostering an even more respectful classroom environment for all of our students.”
SGA approved the preferred name policy resolution on Feb. 4 by a 20-to-1 vote with one abstention.