Name change program used to reflect identity

Students and faculty members at Oswego State who use a different first name than on their official records can now apply to have that name recognized in on-campus communication systems.

Title IX, with system management by the Dean of Students Office, launched the Preferred Name Policy to be put into effect at the beginning of the fall 2017 semester. When a student or faculty member applies, their preferred name will be reflected on both internal and external communication systems, including rosters, news releases, advising lists, housing lists and email.

The legal name will still appear on official documents such as transcripts and payroll accounts. Oswego State identification cards will display both names, the preferred name on the front and the legal name on the back. “This policy is intended to align with current Title IX and SUNY guidance with the purpose of encouraging an environment for personal expression within community standards,” according to the Title IX Preferred Name Policy.

“I think it is great that we have the Preferred Name Policy in place and know a number of students who will benefit from it,” said Lisa Evaneski, Title IX coordinator. “I think it will help our students and employees because class rosters, ID cards, etcetera, will have their name listed on them and they will not have to explain that their legal name is different.”

Eventually, students will be able to fill out an automated application online. However, until the systems prove to work correctly and efficiently those interested in using a preferred name must fill out a brief form in the Dean of Students Office declaring their legal name and their preferred name.

A meeting then occurs with the Dean of Students, Dr. Jerri Howland, to clarify the limitations of the policy. “Our hope always is that we understand that representation matters, we understand that being able to use the name that reflects who you are is important and we hope that the policy and our procedures thus far is doing that,” Howland said.

“People come in for various reasons of why they want a preferred name and we are, as a campus, happy to be able to provide this service for them.” The need for the Preferred Name Policy was realized over a year ago, but until the systems that include the information of students and faculty could accommodate the preferred name, it could not be done.

A committee including Howland met during the year to make the changes happen. “I’m excited that we finally got our systems up and running to be able to accommodate the request and I know that our students that have requested a preferred name have been very happy,” Howland said.

A committee reviewed when the policy would be used in internal and external communication. Wayne Westervelt, chief communication officer in the office of communications and marketing, served as a member of the committee to review and present the policy.

“It gives an individual the option to change their name and to support self-expression,” Westervelt said. Westervelt said the policy would be used through the office of communications and marketing in news releases and on the office’s news and events webpage.

“I wanted to make sure that, internally and externally, we were mindful and respectful of that and we followed the policy out of my office accordingly,” Westervelt said.

The policy is available to anyone who uses a different first name in place of their legal name on a daily basis. Butch Hallmark, the resident all director of Funnelle Hall applied the first day of the fall semester and was approved just a few days later.

Hallmark has always gone by ‘Butch’ but had to use his legal name for his email address on campus, which often confused residents who contacted him. “I applied for this change because since before I was born, my parents wanted to call me ‘Butch.’

They wanted to legally name me after my father, but I have always been referred to as Butch by family, friends, teachers, professors and coaches,” Hallmark said.

As a resident hall director, Hallmark believes the Preferred Name Policy can have a positive impact on someone, even just for seeing their preferred name on their door decoration when they first move into their room on campus.

“I have spoken with a few students who stand to benefit from this policy, and the look of excitement they have in response to it is making this change worth it,” Hallmark said.