By Alexa Wyszkowski
County College of Morris students can now fill out a Chosen Name Request form to have a different first name than their legal name appear in certain places and documents. Even with the CCM campus closed, students can still access the new Chosen Name/Preferred Pronoun webpage of the CCM website to download the form, fill out and send it back in an email to Records and Registration.
The form became available to CCM students on March 23 and allows students to have a chosen first name, such as those who have a preference of middle name, nickname, anglicized name, or a name that aligns with their gender identity.
The form can be filled out and submitted at any time during any semester. Once the form has been accepted by Records and Registration, the student’s chosen name will appear in Titans Direct and Colleague for the student and their professors to view. Their chosen name will also appear on alumni records, Titans Direct class rosters, commencement programs, Dean’s lists, their graduation diploma, Titan’s Direct faculty advisee lists and student ID cards.
Registrar Laura Lee Bowens has been working on having a chosen name option for two years now. Information Systems and the Diversity Committee also assisted Bowens during this time, as the different websites and programs had to be updated and reworked to allow for the chosen name fields to exist.
“The things we can roll out, we are rolling out. The things that have to wait, hopefully, won’t be too long in the future. I’m excited about this. We have been waiting. Honestly, I started this process two years ago. We had to wait for the software company to have an upgrade that included that field [chosen name], and once we got the field, it was a matter of mapping it to everything. It became complex,” said Bowens.
There are plans for the near future that Blackboard will also be updated to include the chosen name field, but as of press time, Blackboard still displays student legal names. CCM student email accounts will also still consist of student legal names. Bowens explained why the student email accounts won’t yet have the chosen name field.
“To change the student email account, there are thousands of email accounts that would have to be changed, it has been discussed, but there’s been no closure on that discussion yet, so we keep batting around a few things to see how we can make this work. It’s something that we do want to do in the future because it makes sense for a lot of reasons,” said Bowens.
Students’ legal names will continue to appear on financial aid and billing documents, official and unofficial transcripts, health records, paychecks, travel forms, transfer credit evaluations, parking permits, tax records and in the time entry system.
CCM students Robin Goodfellow, biology major, the president of LGBT+ Student Union and Valentin Espey-David, sociology and art major, the secretary of LBGT+ helped Bowens and the Diversity Committee with rolling out the Chosen Name Request form. Goodfellow explained how essential this form was for students.
“It [the chosen name form] would definitely make trans people more comfortable in college, it be would be much less anxiety-inducing than to have to email our teachers beforehand, I know trans students [before the form existed] have to email their teachers beforehand, and go out themselves,” said Goodfellow.
Karen Danna, professor of Sociology and a member of the Diversity Committee explained how the form will help students not have to explain their change of names in every interaction.
“The idea certainly with some of the chosen name initiatives here is to take burdens off of students and put them onto systems, put them onto structures, have structures that can do that, and then make it administration, faculty burden. We don’t want this to come back to the student, where the student still has to do the legwork of negotiation and interaction. The structure is supposed to handle some of that,” said Danna.
Bowens explained how Titans Direct will allow students some additional choices under their user profiles.
“Once you see it, it’s really cool. Once everything comes together and you see how it works, then you discover new things in the system that you didn’t know before, which is on Titans Direct students will be allowed to choose their preferred pronouns too,”
Students are also now able to select their preferred pronoun and gender identity on Titans Direct under their user profile. Students in Professor Karen Danna’s spring 2020 Sociology of Gender class helped create the preferred pronoun table that can be found in Titans Direct.
Students with any additional questions can find out more information by visiting the webpage https://www.ccm.edu/admissions/records-and-registration/chosen-name-info/ and sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.