|Policy Title||Chosen Names Policy|
|Policy Owner||Chief Diversity Officer|
|Approved by||President's Cabinet|
Chosen names can be vitally important to our students, faculty, and staff for a variety of reasons. For those within the LGBTQ community, they allow the use of a name that properly expresses one’s gender identity. In some cases they help individuals avoid reminders of past trauma. They allow international students to use a westernized name that makes them feel more comfortable in their new setting. Whatever reason an individual has for using a chosen name, this policy communicates to individuals that they are welcome and valued on our campus; it can be a vital tool in recruitment and retention strategies.
Fredonia recognizes that many persons identify using a name that is different from their legal first name. Fredonia will refer to this name as the “Chosen Name” and will use it when possible in the course of university activities. A change to a person’s last name must be made legally.
Participation in Fredonia’s Chosen Name program
Confirming identity internally
Whenever possible, an F# should be collected. If names conflict, check the F# to confirm an individual’s identity.
Communication with outside agencies
Any participant in the chosen name program who directs an outside agency to correspond with Fredonia bears the responsibility for clarifying their name with all agencies.
UNIVERSITY SENATE FINAL REPORT
The work of the Chosen Names (formerly Preferred Names) Task Force formally began when we received our charge in Spring Semester, 2015. Its history dates further back, however. In fall of 2012, Shawn Rickert, the Diversity Chair in the Student Association, began to openly share some of the challenges he was facing as a transgender student on our campus. His leadership prompted a number of discussions on campus, and a task force came together to study Gender Inclusivity. We submitted our final recommendations in Fall Semester, 2014. Guided by Genny Beemyn’s “Transgender Checklist for Colleges and Universities” and “Best Practices to Support Transgender and Other Gender Nonconforming Students,” two documents created under the aegis of the Transgender Law and Policy Institute, we evaluated campus practices and made suggestions for change.
During the Fall Semester of 2014, another group of students stepped forward to discuss the challenges they were facing. They began in the Student Association (SA), presenting a Resolution in favor of a Chosen Name policy; SA passed it. They took their campaign to the University Senate next and received significant support. Formally charged by University Senate and the President of the State University of New York at Fredonia, the Chosen Names Task Force began its work. One of the most important agreements that we reached at the outset was that the policy would not apply only to transgender individuals. Among those in the pilot program now, we also have individuals who identify using a middle name, those who do not identify along the gender binary but also do not identify as transgender, and those who have been abused by an individual who incorporated the use of their legal name into the abuse. Although we reached out to international students as well, none have decided to take part in the pilot program. We specifically aimed to ensure that the Chosen Names program would also be available to employees, though until very recently we did not have any volunteers for our pilot program.
Our charge was challenging, probably more than any of us realized at the time. We began by using Google docs to compile a list of every place that we could think of where names appeared, what entity controlled or populated those lists, and what potential problems might greet us as we tried to introduce a chosen name option. To complement this brainstorming process, we also had multiple conversations with various persons on campus who would be affected by a chosen name policy (and did not have a representative on our committee), including faculty and staff in Athletics, Public Relations, the Counseling Center, the Health Center, Reed Library, and Residence Life. We also sought input from department chairs.
Simultaneously, we did research to learn how other schools were adapting to the need for chosen name policies. We surveyed multiple schools’ websites, compiled their policies, and scheduled telephone discussions with many of the individuals charged with creating and overseeing their policies. The task force as a whole met for a Skype discussion with Keith Williams, Registrar, University of Vermont. UV has been the leader in adopting chosen name policies, from working with students and employees to give voice to the necessity for such programs to finding creative solutions to implement them. Jeffry Iovannone and Jennifer Hildebrand also had a conference call with Dean Leonard Sancilio, who is overseeing SUNY Geneseo’s attempts to implement a chosen name policy.
In Fall 2015, we implemented a pioneer program that allows students to have a chosen name entered into Banner. That name appears only on their course rosters, and this applies only to rosters generated through Banner; it did not translate into ANGEL and it does not now work with OnCourse. In the pilot program, students can also obtain an ID card from FSA with their chosen name. That program is still in place, but it is time for Fredonia to move forward. It is clunky to say the least; individuals are asked to contact Jennifer Hildebrand to have a Google doc shared with them. She communicates with them to highlight exactly what the pioneer program does and does not do, then gives them instructions to complete the process. Registrar Scott Saunders manually inputs the new information, and then contacts FSA so that they can do the same. The official chosen name program needs to allow selfservice: anyone using it should be able to read a clear policy online that informs them of exactly where their chosen name and legal name will appear, enter their information through an online form, and have that information automatically transferred into Banner and, through Banner, other campus software.
We have reached the point where our committee can no longer shepherd this project forward. A policy, or at least a draft of a policy, needs to be put into the hands of each department, program, and unit on campus so that they can begin to identify what steps will be necessary for them to comply. (Our proposed version is included.) Then each unit can work with Information Technology (IT) to establish a series of projects that will need to be completed to bring that unit into compliance with the policy.
While we hope to see it become policy that students and employees be allowed to use a chosen name in all of the areas we indicated in our draft, it should be emphasized that there are two key areas that students have indicated are most important and therefore should be given top priority: OnCourse and email addresses. We also understand that for various reasons, these are two of the most challenging changes to implement.
There is still much work to do. In addition to the significant labor that will be involved as units self-assess and then develop implementation plans with IT, we need to continue to provide outreach and education about why chosen name policies are so important. Many individuals have expressed a desire for a policy, or at least for guidance, on the use of pronouns. Though we determined that pronouns fell outside of our specific charge, our task force agrees that further discussion is needed regarding the best way to acknowledge individuals who use pronouns besides he/him and she/her. Beemyn’s research shows that most trans college students today identify outside of the masculinefeminine binary. Persons identifying outside of that binary are likely to use pronouns that are less familiar to the general populace and therefore less accommodated and less respected. More education and awareness is needed in regard to this aspect of trans identity.
Those of us on the committee who have had the opportunity to interact with the students participating in the pilot program (we have only just recently gotten a pilot program volunteer who is an employee) can attest to how vitally important chosen names can be to our students. Students have shared that hearing their legal name can incite a tendency to self-harm or episodes of post-traumatic stress disorder. A Chosen Name program can help students to feel welcome on our Fredonia campus by helping us to combat some of the most frequently reported challenges that students face. According to Beemyn, 31-39% of trans students experience harassment on campus; 17-22% fear for their safety; and 65% of trans masculine, 55% of trans feminine, and 18% of gender non-conforming students hide their identities out of fear. Beemyn indicated that there is a direct correlation between fear and student success; one-third of trans or gender non-conforming students consider leaving their school due to a negative climate. As our campus engages with recruitment and retention strategies, the Chosen Name policy can help send the message that Fredonia respects and values everyone.
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Chosen Name: The first name that an individual uses regardless of the name that was assigned to them at birth. Sometimes referred to as a “preferred name.”
Cisgender, Cis: An individual whose gender identity matches the sex assigned to them at birth.
F#: The number assigned to any student, faculty, or staff member when they begin an official relationship with Fredonia.
FREDCard: An identification card used on the Fredonia campus issued by the Fredonia Student Association (FSA).
LGBTQ: The acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer. This is an umbrella term used to refer to a community of individuals whose sexual or gender identities can create shared political and social experiences. The acronym is not meant to be exclusionary; there are other identities, including but not limited to asexual and intersex, that fall under this umbrella term.
Transgender, Trans: An umbrella term that represents individuals whose gender identities do not match the sex assigned to them at birth.
Who may use a Chosen Name?
Any student or employee with an F number (a Fredonia ID number) may use a Chosen Name.
How do I enroll in the Chosen Name program?
Contact Dr. Jennifer Hildebrand at firstname.lastname@example.org. You will be asked to fill out a form online to be shared with the Office of the Registrar.
Can I self-enroll?
Not at this time. Our Chosen Name process is currently being completed manually, behind the scenes. Self-enrollment is a priority for the Chosen Name program as we move forward. We are awaiting an upgrade to Banner (our campus’ information management system), which is expected to have some capabilities that will allow for self-enrollment.
Do I have to answer personal questions or otherwise qualify to use a Chosen Name?
Anyone with an F number can use a Chosen Name. The process will begin once you complete the form indicating your desire to participate in the program – no one will be evaluating your form to decide whether you are allowed to participate.
Where will my Chosen Name appear?
The Chosen Name Policy indicates where your Chosen Name will appear when the program is fully implemented. The Chosen Name Information page at the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion allows you to see where, at present, your Chosen Name will appear.
Which name(s) can I change in the Chosen Name program?
Due to New York State law, you can change your first name only. If you wish to make other changes, you’ll need to do so legally.
Can I use any name I want? Can I use symbols or non-alpha characters?
There are some limitations to the names and characters that you may use. See Section II.D of the Chosen Name Policy.
I understand that my email address will reflect my Chosen Name once I enroll in the program. How will it look?
FOR A STUDENT: When you arrive on campus, you are assigned one central email account. It is created from the first four letters of your last name and the last four digits of your F#. So a hypothetical student named Beyoncé Knowles, F01234567, would be assigned the account email@example.com. You are also assigned an alias account based on the first letter of your first name and your last name: firstname.lastname@example.org. If Beyoncé wanted to enroll in our Chosen Name Program using the name QueenB, then their new alias would be email@example.com. All aliases will be tied to the central email account (in this case, firstname.lastname@example.org).
FOR FACULTY/STAFF: You are assigned a central email account created from the first eight characters of your last name (if there are multiple people on campus with your last name, your first initial will be added to help identify you). You are also assigned an alias based on the following formula: email@example.com. When you enroll in our Chosen Name Program, a new email alias is built from your ChosenName.lastname. Your old email alias will remain connected to your account so that you will still receive emails from individuals who have not updated your email address. All aliases will be tied to the central email account.
How long will it take for my email address to be updated once I enroll in the Chosen Name Program?
Please be aware that the change may take up to seven days to completely synchronize throughout all systems.
Will enrolling in the Chosen Name Program erase all email references to my legal name?
When you exchange emails with someone, your email address is remembered in their contact list. If someone has emailed you at the address associated with your legal name before this update, they will still see your old contact info as a suggested contact. This cannot be changed.
Beyond enrolling in the program, is there anything I need to do to update my email account?
You should update your “send as” name in your Fredonia email account. This will set the new email alias (with your chosen name) as your default “from” account. Follow these steps:
Your alias reflecting your Chosen Name has already been created. In your Fredonia email account, click on the gear icon in the upper right hand corner and choose Settings.
Can I send an email using my old alias with my legal name (for example, if I am not out to my family)?
Yes! When you are composing an email in your Fredonia email account, you will see your default account in the "From" field. At the end of your email address is a drop down arrow. Click on it and you will see all accounts linked to your central email address. Choose whichever one you'd like to use.
As a student, when I enroll in the Chosen Name program, will my professors be automatically notified?
At present, no. We strongly recommend that you contact your professors to share your Chosen Name (and pronouns). If you have questions or need assistance, please ask Dr. Jennifer Hildebrand when you request a copy of the enrollment form.
Although not every person using a Chosen Name identifies as trans or gender non-conforming, Chosen Name programs are particularly important to these individuals. Where can I learn more about the rights of trans and gender non-conforming individuals on US campuses?
The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have partnered to produce a useful handbook.
As a member of the staff or faculty at Fredonia, I want to support my students. How can I learn about best practices?
Lambda Legal provides a helpful overview of best practices.
I know that many people who use a Chosen Name also use gender neutral pronouns. Where can I find information about using the right pronouns?
This document provides an overview of best practices.
Where can I find information about changing my name legally?
Laws and procedures differ by state. The National Center for Transgender Equality maintains a website that provides information on a state-by-state basis. This link will take you to the page for New York; if you need information about another state, there is a drop-down box you can use to navigate.
Can someone at Fredonia help me to change my name legally?
At this time, we are unable to provide legal advice or support. There are many people who can give you informal advice; feel free to contact the people or offices listed in the "Campus Resources" box below.
For my chosen career path, I’ll need to go through a background check or obtain a license. Will Fredonia automatically know which name to use if documents are requested?
It is the responsibility of the individual to ensure that the proper documents are supplied. If you use a Chosen Name and you are applying for licensure or know your potential employer will run a background check, it is your responsibility to resolve any potential problems or conflicts. Keep in mind that for a background check, faculty, student affairs personnel, and former supervisors all might be contacted.