University adds preferred names for student systems, class rosters

The changes will benefit students whose legal names do not match their identity.

MyZou will now allow students to add a preferred first and middle names to be displayed in the Student Center section of the system, class and grade rosters, Blackboard, and emails.

Students may add preferred names under the “Personal Information” section of MyZou. The changes will appear on MyZou immediately and take about a day to appear on Blackboard.

University Registrar Brenda Selman said adding a preferred name will not change a student’s legal name, and will not appear on student ID cards, transcripts or diplomas.

Selman said the ability to display preferred names has been requested in the past few years but was not functional in past software.

“Many ‘Roberts’ prefer to be called ‘Bob,’ etcetera,” she said. “Allowing the students to indicate a preferred name will help with communication with faculty and others … due to costs of modifying the system, we were unable to accommodate the changes requested (in the past).”

The change had long been advocated by the LGBTQ Resource Center and the transgender student community.

Center coordinator Struby Struble said displaying preferred names in university systems will greatly affect transgender or gender-nonconforming students whose legal names do not match their identity.

“A very common experience for most people who identify as transgender is that they go through a name and pronoun shift at some point in their transition into living as their true selves,” she said. “So someone introduces themselves as ‘Sarah,’ someone looks like what we expect a Sarah to look like in the world, but then their ID or class roster would say something like ‘Samuel.’”

Struble said not having this option has proved a heavy burden for transgender students who would rather be marked absent than to be outed in a classroom.

“Their grades are affected because if a professor is saying out loud a name that doesn’t match who they are, they would rather get marked absent and have a grade go down than be outed, because being outed as trans has disproportionate negative effects on their life sometimes,” she said.

Struble said allowing the system to automatically display a person’s preferred name will provide more comfort for transgender students.

“Having to go up to a professor or a student to say ‘please use this different name,’ ‘please respect me as who I am,’ on an individual level as opposed to a campus-wide inclusion is an unfair burden to trans students,” Struble said. “I think this is going to have large positive impacts across the board. The point is just to have every student’s names to be their actual names.”

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