Ohio University

skip to main content

Preferred Names

Why did Ohio University create this new policy (Student Names policy #12.021)?

  • Ohio University is committed to fostering an environment of inclusiveness and supporting students' preferred for of self-identification. With this in mind, this policy provides definitions for and uses of names and pronouns recorded for students. It is expected that faculty, staff, and students will make every effort to call students by their preferred name and utilize students' requested pronoun usage.

    Every individual has the right to be address by a name and pronoun that corresponds to the person's gender identity. A court-ordered name or gender change is not required, and the student need not change their official records. The intentional or persistent refusal to utilize an individual's name preference is a violation of this policy.

    Preferred name practices have already been in effect at Campus Care and Counseling and Psychological Services. Faculty and staff have been able to report a preferred first name through My Personal Information.

    Background:
    In March 2013, Hannah Dunn, LGBT Affairs commissioner for Student Senate, presented the Preferred Name resolution for students who do not go by their legal name, transgender students, and exchange students. In November 2014, Elliot Long, LGBT Affairs commissioner for Graduate Student Senate, presented the Preferred Name and Pronoun resolution for students who do not want to go by their legal name, transgender students, and international students. These two resolutions started the conversation to determine how the University could address this critical need. The policy and system changes resulted from these discussions.

What is a preferred name?

  • It is the name an individual would like to be called while at Ohio University. It does not require any legal documentation and may be reported via self-service through My OHIO Student Center (students) or My Personal Information (employees). An individual's preferred name is how the individual would like to be addressed by faculty, staff, and students.

    A preferred name may be reported by anyone, but trans identified students, international students, students who go by a nickname or middle name, or any student who prefers a name other than their legal name may commonly report a preferred name.

Why would an individual report a preferred name?

  • An individual may have multiple reasons for wanting others to know and address the individual by a specific name. One who identifies as trans, one who goes by a different first name in everyday life (e.g., a middle name, a nickname, etc.), an international person who prefers to use another name due to pronunciation challenges, and those whose last names have changed for various personal reasons are among those who may report a preferred name.

    An individual does not have to report a preferred name. If an individual does not report a preferred name, the individual's legal name will be used.

Who can report a preferred name?

  • A student can report a preferred name once they have attended orientation. Students report and update preferred names directly through My OHIO Student Center.

    Faculty and Staff may report a preferred name through My Personal Information.

Where is a preferred name used?

  • The student's preferred name will be used in lieu of the student's legal name wherever the legal name is not required. For example, the student's preferred name will be used in Blackboard, on faculty class rosters, on DARS, on advisee lists, and in the online directory. The legal name is used for admission-related processes; transfer credit; federal, state, and institutional student financial aid; housing contracts; payroll; and other legally binding purposes.

What is a preferred pronoun?

  • Pronouns are used in place of people's names. A preferred pronoun is the pronoun that an individual would like others to use when talking to or about that individual. Some people prefer others to use a gender-neutral or gender-inclusive pronoun when talking to or about them. Below is a list of pronouns a student can select as their preferred pronoun (a student can also edit one of these or enter something different):

    • ey, em, eir
    • he, him, his
    • it, its, its
    • ne, nem, nir
    • phe, per, pers
    • she, her, hers
    • they, them, their
    • ve, ver, vis
    • xe, xem, xyr
    • ze, zir, zir

    If a student would prefer that a pronoun not be used then the student should enter the student's name as the preferred pronoun.

Why would an individual report a preferred pronoun?

  • Students may report a preferred pronoun so others do not need to make assumptions about the student's gender identity. Preferred pronouns are used in order to respect the way people identify and to avoid making assumptions about people's identities. A person's preferred pronoun can change over time. However, there are students who do not have a preference - a student does not have to report a preferred pronoun. If a student does not want a pronoun to be used at all the student should simply enter the student's name as the preferred pronoun.

Who can report a preferred pronoun?

  • Students can report a preferred pronoun once they have completed orientation. Students report and update preferred pronouns directly through My OHIO Student Center.

Where is a preferred pronoun used?

  • The preferred pronoun will be made available to residential housing for students living in residence halls; on class lists; on advisee lists; and to others who have a need to know.

How does an individual updated the preferred name and/or pronoun?

  • Students can update their preferred name and/or pronoun in My OHIO Student Center. After logging in, click on the "Names" link in the Personal Information section.

    Faculty and Staff may update their preferred first name in My Personal Information. After logging in, expand the "My Personal Information" folder, click "Personal Information" and then in the "Basic Details" section, click the Update button.

Do individuals have to provide a preferred name or preferred pronoun?

  • No. Preferred name and preferred pronoun are available so that others do not have to make assumptions about a person's identity, but there is no requirements to submit this information. If an individual does not submit a preferred name, the individual's legal name will be used, and if an individual does not submit a preferred pronoun, no information about pronouns will be provided.

How do individuals update their legal name?

  • Students are required to provide their legal names on their applications for admission. After enrollment, students may process official name changes or corrections with the Office of the University Registrar. A change of legal name requires an official document or court order verifying the correct information at the time the request is made. One of the following documents may be submitted for verification of the legal name change:

    1. Valid passport (required for international students in non-immigrant status);
    2. Court action document;
    3. Divorce decree (the appropriate page of the decree);
    4. Marriage certificate;
    5. Valid driver's license and social security card (you must submit both and the names must match);
    6. Federal or state-issued identification card and a social security card (you must submit both and the names must match).

    When only one word is provided for the legal name, the information will be stored in a system's last name field with the standardized designation of 'FNU' (first name unknown) stored in the first name field.

    Faculty and Staff should contact Human Resources to update their legal names.

Can an individual get a new ID Card with the preferred name?

  • Yes. If the individual reports a preferred name in My OHIO Student Center, then they can request a new ID card that will include the preferred name on the front and the legal name on the back. There is no charge to replace the ID card upon a change in name, provided the old card is returned at the time the new card is requested.

What name will appear on a student's diploma?

  • Students may provide abbreviated variations of their legal name when they apply for graduation. The name appearing on a student's diploma may be different from the legal name only with these options:

    • option of first name or initial,
    • option of including or excluding the middle name or initial,
    • proper capitalization
    • proper accentuation of the name.

    First and middle names may not be lengthened (i.e., expanding an initial to a full name), or shortened to anything other than an initial, for a diploma name without also updating the legal name.

Is it possible for a student to get a new diploma if the student's legal name has changed?

  • Yes. The original diploma must be returned and a replacement diploma will be issued after obtaining the appropriate documentation to update the student's legal name. There is a $15.00 fee, and the current University officials' signatures will appear on the replacement diploma.

What does an individual who is both a student and an employee do?

  • Many individuals serve multiple roles at OHIO, including those who are both a student and an employee. The University supports preferred names for both students and employees, so individuals should make sure to update the preferred name in the My OHIO Student Center (for student names) and My Personal Information (for employee names).

Why is a certain office or system not using an individual's preferred name?

  • There are a few reasons an office or system might not be using an individual's preferred name in some or all communications. Some offices or processes require use of an individual's legal name. For example, admission-related processes; transfer credit; federal, state, and institutional student financial aid; and payroll are examples of processes that require use of the legal name. Even though some processes require the use of the legal name, it is the intent that all offices use the preferred name as much as possible in general communications.

    There is also a chance that an online system is not including an individual's preferred name when it should be. If that is the case, please contact the OIT service desk by visiting http://www.ohio.edu/oit/help/index.cfm or calling 740.593.1222.

What do I do if my name does not show up as an instructor in Blackboard?

  • If you are a student teaching a class (e.g., GA or TA), you can update your legal and/or preferred name(s) as described above. Blackboard will be updated with your new name the next time it is refreshed.

    If you are a faculty member or other employee teaching a class in Blackboard, the name in Blackboard is updated based on the information in the PeopleSoft student information system, not My Personal Information. To update your legal name, follow the instructions above under the question, "How do individuals update their legal name?" To update your preferred name, please email registration@ohio.edu and indicate you are an instructor who would like your preferred name updated in PeopleSoft, and what you would like your preferred name to be. Blackboard will be updated with your new name the next time it is refreshed.

Is Ohio University the only University with this policy?

  • There are several universities with preferred name policies. However, we are one of the first to have a preferred pronoun policy.

Whom do I contact if I have additional questions?

  • lease contact the Office of the University Registrar by emailing registrar@ohio.edu, calling 740.593.4260, or in person at Chubb Hall, First Floor.