A blog to keep current on MPIRG'S fight for social and environmental justice.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Names Matter!

Simge Okut

Our birth names are not always the best way to describe who we are. Since names shape our first impressions, it is important to identify with a name. If the given name is not suitable for someone, one option is to legally change that title. However, there is simpler solution for those in a college environment. The University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Duluth and Morris MPIRG Chapters are working on a campaign to help promote a learning environment that is comfortable and safe for all.

The Preferred Name Policy Campaign is working to provide students and staff with the power to modify their names on class rosters. Although this is not equal to a legal alteration, it will give the opportunity to those who don’t want their legal names to be the first identifying component of who they are. There isn’t one particular group that will benefit from this change. Everyone including trans-identified, international students, divorced, recently married and others who simply want to be called something else for various reasons will benefit. Students won’t have to explain what they would preferred to be called, professors won’t have to worry about misusing anyone’s name and the Registrar’s office will have the control over which changes can be deemed as inappropriate or misleading.

This is kind of change is not an entirely new idea. It only requires a software update to include a panel for faculty and students to access in order to change their names. University of Michigan, Princeton University, Stony Brook University, Case Western Reserve University, University of Wisconsin – Madison and The University of Vermont are only a few of the universities that currently allow students and faculty to make such adjustments. The university documents that are affected from the Preferred Name Policy differ according to the software a university uses. While some can only make a change on the roster, some go as far as unofficial transcripts and student cards.

The University of Minnesota takes pride in diversity and strong community. Reflecting on that, MPIRG chapters at U of M Twin Cities, Duluth and Morris are collaborating to advocate for this important change. In a campus as big as University of Minnesota, it is crucial that everyone feels comfortable with who they are within the community. Preferred Names Policy takes us one step closer to maintaining that objective. 

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