WMU begins new academic year with preferred name policy

contact: Cheryl Roland
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University has adopted a preferred name policy that allows students to be identified by a chosen name rather than their legal name in a wide range of campus settings and activities.

While legal names will still be used for enrollment, transcripts, diplomas, financial aid, Elearning and certain federal reporting, students will be free to select the first name of their choice for class lists, email, Bronco Cards, the GoWMU computing portal and campus directories. With this move, WMU becomes one of just 146 schools around the nation and five in Michigan that have adopted some form of preferred name policy, according to Campus Pride, a national service and advocacy group for LGBTQ and ally student leaders and campus organizations.

The option went live on University electronic record systems Aug. 28—just in time for the start of the fall 2015 semester. The option signals the University's continued commitment to diversity and inclusion, WMU officials say, and is expected to be popular with a variety of students.

"The option of having a preferred first name is a reflection of WMU's continued commitment to the inclusion of all individuals," says Dr. Martha Warfield, vice president for diversity and inclusion. "Recognizing and using the first names students choose for themselves confirms to students that we respect who they are."

The preferred name option also extends to campus employees who can change their preference though the Office of Human Resources. Faculty and staff are encouraged to use preferred first names in their interactions with students and in all University communications except where use of a legal name is required by University business.

For more information about the change, the areas in which preferred names will be used and how to go about using the option, visit wmich.edu/registrar/policies/preferred-name.

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