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BuckeyeLink change allows Ohio State students to set preferred names

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Some Ohio State students may soon find themselves answering to a name they’re more accustomed to.

OSU has implemented a new system that allows students to change their legal name to a preferred name via BuckeyeLink, and the preferred name will then show up to advisers, on class rosters and on Carmen.

The system was initiated by the Office of Student Life and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and developed by the University Registrar and the Office of the Chief Information Officer, according to a message from Vice President of Student Life Javaune Adams-Gaston.

The preferred name system was also a recommendation of the No Place for Hate Task Force as an attempt to achieve “a more open and welcoming campus community,” according to a Student Life Preferred Name frequently asked questions website.

A preferred name is a name that one goes by in day-to-day life.

OSU Student Life spokesman Dave Isaacs said the preferred name system allows students to be called by a name they identify with.

“In a variety of ways, it makes people feel more a part of the community and a part of being a Buckeye when they are known on a day-to-day basis by the name they have chosen,” Isaacs said.

Isaacs said there are three main groups the preferred name system affects.

The first group is made up of people who do not go by their legal first name.

The second group of people the preferred name system could affect is international students, who sometimes use an American or shortened name for convenience.

“We work very closely with International Affairs, and this is something that will definitely help out international students,” Isaacs said.

The third group of people is transgender students, who might self-identify with a different name from their legal one.

The preferred name will not show up on transcripts, diplomas or enrollment or degree verifications, according to the frequently asked questions website.

Students can make the change on BuckeyeLink’s self-service page without any documentation or permission required. If no preferred name is selected, however, students’ legal names will remain the default.

Because BuckIDs could be used as a secondary form of identification in a variety of situations, a student’s preferred name will not appear on his or her BuckID. Otherwise, having two IDs with different names could present an issue, the frequently asked questions website said.

Isaacs said there is no limit on how many times a student can change his or her name on BuckeyeLink, but with regards to potential abuse, he said there is a trust system in place.

“I would certainly hope that people would act responsibly,” Isaacs said.

Although the new system is referred to as a policy on the frequently asked questions website, Isaacs said it is more of a procedure.

“It is a procedure that makes the (name) change happen,” Isaacs said.

Sudzy Steyn, a third-year in strategic communication, said the service is important for developing a relationship with professors.

“What people call you makes up a part of your identity and it makes your relationship with the professor more personal when they already know what you like to be called from the start,” Steyn said.

Steyn’s legal first name is Alastair, but he has gone by “Sudzy” ever since his father started calling him that as a nickname when he was a baby.

Steyn said he plans on using the system and changing his preferred name to Sudzy.

Guifei Fang, a third-year in accounting and an international student from China, said it would be easier for teachers to call him by his American name, Frank.

“It could be useful (to change my name). If I have time, then I will change it to Frank,” Fang said.

Jerica Stewart, a third-year in communication, said the system could be helpful but it’s not necessary.

“I don’t think it is that important to have because teachers usually ask students if they would rather go by a different name than what is on the roster when they take attendance for the first time,” Stewart said.

Isaacs said the preferred name system is not costing the university anything.

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