NIU students who choose to go by a name other than the one given to them at birth will soon be able to change their name on class rosters and Blackboard in a single step.
Beginning Tuesday, Nov. 15, NIU will offer a way for students to specify the name they would like to be known by in MyNIU.
“In the past, students have had to send an individual email to each of their professors telling them, ‘I’m on your roster with this name, but the name I use is this,’ or go to several offices and re-enter information,” said Molly Holmes, director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC). “There have been workarounds, but nothing this direct. This allows students more ownership in being recognized the way they want to.”
Any student who goes by a name that is different from their legal name can choose to use their proper name. Students will be able to make the change by logging in to MyNIU and editing their personal information. Within about 24 hours, the proper name will be the one seen on rosters and Blackboard.
“The preferred name field implementation was started by the Division of Information Technology (DoIT), but it was also a recommendation made over the years by the GSRC and the Presidential Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity to support LGBTQ students and staff who would like to be called by their proper name,” said Vernese Edghill-Walden, chief diversity officer and senior associate vice president for academic diversity. “We are pleased to see this name field being implemented. It is important to make faculty, staff and students aware of this new feature for all students.”
DoIT notes that there are some cases in which a student’s legal name must still be used – admission documents, official transcripts, diplomas, reports for state and federal agencies, financial aid documents and employment records, to name a few. In order to change the name on official records and transcripts, a student would have to legally change their name and present a Social Security card and photo ID showing the new name to Registration and Records. Inappropriate use of the preferred name option, such as using it for misrepresentation or attempting to avoid a legal obligation, could lead to the name change being denied.
“When it comes to the student’s proper name and being able to navigate the university as any student can, to have ownership over making that change in the system rather than leaving it up to a gatekeeper is definitely a positive step,” Holmes said.
The self-service preferred name option will be available for students in MyNIU beginning Tuesday, Nov. 15. Faculty and staff can specify an updated proper/preferred name at any time by completing the Personal Data Form available on the Human Resource Services website.