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OHIO working to propagate pronouns in technology platforms

Published: October 20, 2021 Author: Isaac Miller

Ohio University is working to propagate pronouns and preferred names in as many technology platforms as possible in the next year. That includes allowing students seeking to change their pronouns to do so without being asked for their “preferred” pronouns.

“We have seen greater and greater diversity of gender expression at Ohio University and throughout the nation,” LGBT Center Director Micah McCarey said. “And the goal is to get people to respect personal use of pronouns as more than a preference.” 

The LGBT Center, the Office of the University Registrar and the Office of Information Technology (OIT) have all been key offices in supporting this change and offering ways for students to be their authentic selves

“We are committed to supporting pronoun and preferred name initiatives, including safeguarding personal information and ensuring names and pronouns are correctly displayed in University systems,” said Chief Information Officer Chris Ament. 

One change includes removing “preferred” from the pronouns label in the MyOHIO Student Center. University Registrar Debra Benton said her office was happy to work with OIT to make that change. 

“Our students are fortunate to have Micah McCarey leading the LGBT Center and promoting respect for personal pronouns,” Benton added. 

Cody Huebner, a graduate assistant for the Housing Ambassador Program with Housing and Residence Life who identifies as queer, has a passion for advocating for operational equity for students. Recognizing the discrepancy between using the phrasing “preferred” before a person’s pronouns, Cody recently reached out to the LGBT Center to inquire about the possibility of officially updating pronoun terminology. 

“Even though it may seem small, this subtle distinction between someone’s preference of pronouns and simply what pronouns they utilize can mean the difference between a student (or staff member) feeling like they belong, and I’m delighted to be a part of this initiative,” Huebner said. 

 In 2015, OHIO implemented a policy that allowed students to be identified with the name and/or pronoun they use. This included updating the MyOHIO Student Center so that students could update their name and pronouns, as well as modifying other systems so faculty could access that information. Ohio University was one of the first universities in the state to take this step.

“We live in a society where we tend to make assumptions about what pronouns a person uses based on their appearance,” McCarey said. “However, the pronoun policy allowed students to share their names and/or pronouns and have make it possible for instructors to include that information on their class rosters.”

OHIO students, faculty, and staff can learn more about updating pronouns and names on the Student Names FAQ page. Anyone who notices a system displaying pronouns or names incorrectly should contact the IT Service Desk to resolve the issue.