Suppose you are a USD student whose identity as a person is challenged every time someone calls you by your legal name in front of others. In addition to being a source of embarrassment and cause of serious concern, being called by your legal name can also threaten your safety.
Now, imagine this happens to you four to six times on the first week of classes, every semester, for your entire academic career.
Many members of our campus community identify as transgender, meaning they identify as a gender which differs from their sex assigned at birth. For these students, the first week of classes is a stressful time in which they are repeatedly outed in a public manner not of their choosing.
More than 250 colleges around the United States have what is known as a Preferred Name Policy (PNP). This allows students to use a name other than their legal name where legal names are not necessary.
PNP’s help protect the safety and identities of transgender students by allowing a preferred name on class rosters, ID cards, etc. and benefit international students, students whose names are often mispronounced and students who use nicknames.
The current student record system at USD lacks the capability to accommodate a PNP. When instructors download their class or advising lists, the only name option available in the system is a legal name.
A new system which can accommodate a PNP is planned (expected completion of fall 2019); but, we need help for our students in the interim. While getting student names right may not seem like a big deal to everyone, research links acknowledgement and correct pronunciation of a person’s name and identity with acceptance into the community and culture of an institution.
USD has pledged a commitment to inclusive excellence. Therefore, we are asking faculty to help create a better environment for all our students by replacing traditional roll call with another option.
- Instead of calling roll on the first day of class using the roster found in WebAdvisor, faculty can:
- Allow students to introduce themselves and update the class roster accordingly.
- Use clickers which allow roll to be taken anonymously.
- Email students before classes start to ask if they have a preferred name before calling roll.
- If faculty use a sign-up sheet for attendance, ask students to print and sign-in on the first day rather than providing a list of names pulled from WebAdvisor. Adding an option for students to phonetically spell their name is also a helpful tool.
- Ask students to create a “nameplate” on the first day of class to display their preferred name for roll and class participation.
We believe protecting and supporting our students’ identities is a noble cause and appreciate faculty support in making this small change!
Take the pledge: don’t call roll!
The President’s Council for Diversity and Inclusiveness