Your Names and Pronouns
Students and employees should always be asked for their chosen names and pronouns and these should be used consistently in all interactions including, among other situations, in written materials, face-to-face and on-line discussions, narrative evaluations. Using the chosen name and pronoun of members of the Shippensburg community is essential for maintaining inclusive learning, working, and living environments that promote dignity, equity, and mutual respect for all persons involved.
Taking attendance on the first day of class or during initial organizational meetings have the potential for publicly identifying students whose chosen names do not match their legal names, as well as students who just prefer to use a name different from their legal name. Faculty are therefore encouraged to call roll in a way that allows students and employees to use their chosen name from the beginning, so that classmates and/or co-workers only hear the name that the student or employee uses. Whatever pronouns, or the lack of them, appear in information systems, it is still best practice to confirm with students before reading names aloud.
One simple way to do this is to call roll by last name and to have students and/or employees respond with their chosen first name and pronouns. For example, a professor would call “Robinson” and a student would respond, “Susanna, and I use she/her/hers for pronouns.” Everyone’s chosen name and pronoun can then be noted on the class roster.
However, it is also important to acknowledge not everyone will feel safe sharing pronouns and names in front of classmates on the first day or at any point during the semester. Therefore, faculty are encouraged to consider using other approaches to obtaining such information. One such option is passing out and then collecting individual index cards from students and asking them to write this information down. Once collected, faculty can edit their rosters accordingly. If an instructor or supervisor prefers to take attendance by passing around a sheet of paper, it is important not to pass around the official class roster, which may include names students do not use. Instead, pass around a blank sheet of paper with spaces for chosen names, pronouns. Alternatively, you may give people an index card and ask them to write down their information, which can be helpful if the instructor or supervisor wishes to ask additional questions.
In regards to sharing pronouns, it is important not to make this a mandatory process. However, part of facilitating a trans/non-binary inclusive space, is having the faculty member (or staff member in regards to other group spaces) share their own pronouns first. This will give an indication that you welcome sharing pronouns in the space. Regardless, do not force the issue. If a student does not want to share their pronouns, then please do not.
Constructing Syllabi and Training Materials
In similar fashion to including and reviewing statements regarding discrimination and sexual harassment with students, co-workers, and employees, syllabi, training manuals (e.g., for student employees) as well as co-curricular or extracurricular program learning materials should have a statement regarding preferred names that is consistent with the SU Your Name Policy. Consider including the following:
- It is the policy of Shippensburg University that any student or employee may choose to identify themselves within the university’s information systems with a chosen name in addition to their legal name. Individuals should consult the university's Your Name Policy for definitions,
restrictions, and procedures.
- Students and employees are encouraged to use chosen names in all university venues and during university functions to promote an inclusive and affirming campus climate.
Supervising or Interacting with Student Employees and Colleagues
In initial interactions with student employees and colleagues, ask about their chosen name and pronoun before continuing. One way to do this is to first introduce yourself with your name and pronouns and then invite others to share theirs. Again, if an individual does not share their pronouns, do not pressure them.
There may be times when you will receive documents, packages, or other items that do not align with an individual’s chosen name or pronouns. For example, to receive services, a student or employee may submit an ID that does not align with their chosen name/pronouns. Clarifying and establishing chosen names and pronouns before such circumstances occur is essential by simply asking the individual submitting their identification their name rather than only relying on the name displayed on the identification.
It is vital that supervisors provide access to training and information for the respective unit on best practices. It is important for unit employees (student and professional) to understand the purpose and significance of using chosen names and pronouns in the higher education setting from both a human understanding and quality point-of-service lenses.
Student Group Services
Campus Groups – our student group management and engagement platform – pulls student information from University identification systems. It is important for program administrators to review that the software has the correct chosen name/pronouns and make corrections, as they are able and as they arise.
Advisors to student organizations (faculty or staff) are encouraged to clarify and establish chosen names and pronouns when working with students within their respective organizations. One way to do this is to first introduce yourself with your name and pronouns and then ask others if they would like to share similarly.
Advisors to student organizations are encouraged to use chosen names in all university venues and during university functions to promote an inclusive and affirming campus climate, including student organizations. Advisors should recognize their role in upholding an inclusive campus climate within group interactions and responding when appropriate.
Chosen Name Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a chosen name?
A chosen name is a name that differs from one’s legal name. It is a name that a person chooses to be known by. This may include a person’s full name, or any part thereof. The University recognizes that as a community, many of its members use names other than their legal names to identify themselves. As long as the use of this different name is not for misrepresentation, the University acknowledges that a chosen name may be used in addition to the person’s legal name.
Who is able to request a chosen name at Shippensburg University?
Any student or employee at Shippensburg University is able to request a chosen name that differs from their legal name on certain University records.
Under what circumstances can a request to use a chosen name be denied?
A chosen name will be denied or revoked when it is deemed inappropriate for reasons, including, but not limited to, avoidance of a legal obligation, fraud, use of obscene or offensive language, or misrepresentation.
Where will chosen name be used on campus?
Chosen names will be shown on University records and documents, and for other educational or professional purposes, within the technological capabilities of the various campus IT systems. Everyone should be aware that legal names are used for outside correspondence, such as letters to home addresses, and for other doucments for which the legal name is the only option.
The chosen name will be used in select University-related systems and documents as listed below.
- Learning Management System
- Student Advising Systems
- Faculty Class Lists
- Student Co-Curricular Systems
- Hosing System
- Student Judicial System
- Email Display Name
- Student Reports
- Commencement Program and Ceremony
- Alumni System
- Student and Employee ID Card
- Degree Audits
- Athletic Rosters
- Dining Services
- Student Job/Career Services
- Recruiting Services
Where will legal name be used instead of chosen name?
The chosen name may not be used where the use of the legal name is required by policies applicable to Shippensburg University, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, or applicable local, state, federal regulations or law.
The legal name will be used for official University records including, but not limited to following items:
- Academic Transcript
- Enrollment Verifications
- Employment Verifications
- Degree Verifications
- Employment Documents
- Payroll Documents (paycheck, W2, etc.)
- Athletic External Reporting
- Student Medical Records
- Legal Documents and Reports
- Student Accounts Statements
- Financial Aid Documents
- Scholarship Documents
- Mailing Information
- Admission Applications
How do Shippensburg University students request use of a chosen name?
The student can go to MyShip and make the changes in Banner. If a student feels their request is unjustly denied, the student may file an appeal with the Shippensburg University Office of Equity, Inclusion, and Compliance.
How do Shippensburg University employees request use of a chosen name?
Employees requesting to be known by their chosen name should send the request by email to firstname.lastname@example.org Office of Human Resources. The employee will be notified of the status of their request within 10 business days. If an employee feels their request is unjustly denied, the employee may contact their respective union representative and file an appeal with the Shippensburg University Office of Social Equity, Inclusion, and Compliance.
When is the optimal time to initiate changes?
From a University perspective, applying at least two weeks prior to the start of a semester. Students opting to use their chosen name after the start of the semester are responsible for notifying their teaching faculty and academic advisor; as well as other relevant parties to potentially include coaches, student group advisors, campus employment supervisors, Resident Advisors and Resident Directors.
The Office of Equity, Inclusion, and Compliance is grateful to the LGBTQ+ Concerns and the APSCUF Social Justice Committees for their work on preparing this guidance.