The University of Nevada, Reno’s housing department is restructuring their data system so students are identified by their preferred name — a name that refers to a first name chosen to use instead of a legal first name.
According to Jasmine Harris, the Operations Manager of Residential Life, Housing, and Food Service, the department will continue using Symplicity, a system used to manage student and staff housing on campus, but will have an updated way to display the data. Residents will need to add their preferred name through MyNevada. The system has already changed and it will be used in three weeks, but the frequency and rate of name changes are still unknown.
“Our department is committed to respecting our residents/employees’ identity and supporting self-expression,” Harris said in an email obtained by the Nevada Sagebrush. “We are working with the Office of Information Technology and Symplicity developers to change all employees/resident names to their preferred names indicated in MyNevada 2.0…”
Students’ preferred names will be shown on their student profile for room assignment producers, payments, room changes and meal plans. There have also been changes on administrative profiles.
Currently, the preferred name system will only be in the housing department.
“I feel so much safer about this change, it makes me feel happier when getting emails and also having to sort of reintroduce myself when I get assigned roommates,” freshman Coley Beau said. “Being more inclusive is always something that needs to be worked on but just reiterating that all types of expression is valid and normalizing the usage of pronouns is something that can make a huge impact! If all websites and university systems use my preferred name and pronouns I will feel a lot safer and happier about being a student here. By normalizing the usage of stating your pronouns and making it known that people can identify as anything they want to be would make me feel safer.”
The Associated Students of the University of Nevada have discussed resolutions supporting a preferred name system but there is no legislation at this time.
Residential Housing Association President Serena Phen believes this change will allow all students to be accepted and included. President Phen said since the Nevada Sagebrush article, RHA is trying to be more conscious of allowing students to express their preferred names on RHA’s application, at General Council meetings and to representatives on Leadership Councils. President Phen thinks this change is beneficial to a welcoming culture and she wants more educational opportunities for students to learn about the preferred name system.
“It was an incredibly relieving change to see implemented,” freshman Logan Kisner said. “The ‘chosen name’ system change is greatly appreciated as it was greatly needed, but of course the housing department still needs to be careful with the trans kids in its care. I think on top of the gender-inclusive housing option, asking all prospective students if they would be open to having a trans roommate would be beneficial; minimally, it opens eyes to that being a possibility, as well as helps identify safe places for trans students as well as potentially dangerous ones.”
Kisner believes the implementation of the preferred name system throughout the university will be beneficial. He also said more gender-neutral bathrooms could be a first step towards making his community feel safer on campus.
“Not deadnaming trans people is the simplest and easiest thing that cis people can do for us, and it immediately makes us feel more comfortable and accepted,” said freshman Ozzy Hayes. “The university as a whole needs to do better at normalizing the existence and presence of trans students. We’re here and we’ve always been here and it’s disappointing to see how far the university still has to go in cultivating acceptance and normalization of our existence both officially and in the culture the campus cultivates.”
Hayes feels the preferred name system should be spread throughout the university and can begin culturally cultivating an environment on campus to make transgender students feel safe.
“It’s frustrating to talk about what’s needed for progress, safety, and inclusion when it feels like first steps are just barely being made,” Hayes said.
Taylor Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.