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Jesper Beckholt, a senior at Ohio University, displays their "that's what ze said" button in Ohio University's LGBT Center in Athens, Ohio, on January 20, 2015. Ze is a gender neutral pronoun, often used by people who are transgender or genderqueer; Beckholt uses the pronouns they/them.

LGBT-inclusive preferred name, pronoun policy approved for the 2015-16 academic year

A new policy this fall will allow students to change their name preference and pronoun preference online. This preferred name will show up on class rosters, advising lists and student identification cards

Shortly before the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, Ohio University President Roderick McDavis approved a policy that will allow for further inclusion of individuals on campus.

The preferred name and pronoun policy, which was approved June 4, will allow all OU students to state their preferred names and select their preferred pronouns in their Student Portal, said Delfin Bautista, director of the LGBT Center. The names and pronouns will then show up on class rosters, advising lists and anywhere a student ID card is swiped.

The policy is expected to be fully-functioning for student use in the fall, Bautista said.

“Hopefully what this will create is there may be faculty who may never know the legal name of a student,” Bautista said. “They may have Rachel in class, and Rachel has always been Rachel, but they may never know that Rachel’s legal name is Richard.”

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The policy also applies to students who simply have a different name they prefer to go by, such as “Bob” for “Robert.”

“We also talked about students who may be able to change their last name because their parents got divorced or issues of sexualized violence,” Bautista said. “We purposely framed it so that many different types of groups could benefit from the policy.”

International second-year graduate student Hashim Pashtun, who is studying engineering, said he will make use of this new policy. He said his full name is Mohammad Hashim Pashtun, Hashim being his first name. While Mohammed Pashtun shows up on his student ID, he introduces himself as Hashim.

“Many students and faculty had problems finding my name because they were searching for Hashim,” he said. “I am sure there are many international students who will make use of this policy so they can be called the same name they want to see in their student database.”

The name on a student’s diploma will still be their legal name or a slight variation of their legal name, said Debra Benton with the Office of University Registrar.

This policy comes from an effort started by the 2012-13 Student Senate LGBT commissioners, Taylor Hufford and Paige Klatt, who were working closely with Bautista, Benton, former Vice President for Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi and the Office of Information Technology on the technicalities of the policy.

The group plans to permit both the legal and preferred name on student ID cards, although “details are still being worked out,” Benton said.

“I think everyone, up to (and) including the president, has been very supportive of the concept since it was introduced,” said Lombardi, who convened the group that met to discuss the policy.

Miami University, Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve University all have preferred name policies, Bautista said, but OU has one of the few policies that also includes pronoun preference.

Students can select from more recognized, gender-inclusive pronouns such as she/her, he/him and they/them, as well as newer pronouns that Bautista said came out this year, such zie/zim and ey/em.

Stefan Koob, a sophomore studying women’s, gender and sexuality studies, said when he was a freshman, he had to email all of his professors to let them know that he would not identify with his legal name Ashley or the she/her pronouns associated with it.

Once the policy is in place, students won’t have that problem any longer.

“All of my professors responded pretty quickly, and they were pretty OK about it, but (the policy) is going to be really beneficial for people who are anxious about having to email their professors,” Koob said.

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Klatt said she is not sure whether the recent media attention on same-sex marriage legalization or Caitlyn Jenner’s transition helped pass the policy, but hopes for a positive understanding by the student body.

“Of course there will be some who … will not agree, but I think having this policy in place will help combat some of those negative reactions,” said Klatt, a senior studying specialized studies.

Lombardi said having this policy at OU will be an important part in the school’s history of inclusivity.

“I only see good things from this change in policy,” he said.


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