WSU students can now register a ‘chosen name’ — with some limitations

Students+holding+flags+lined+the+steps+of+the+Sedgwick+County+Historic+Courthouse+as+part+of+the+2019+Wichita+Pride+Parade.+GLSEN%2C+an+organization+that+advocates+for+LGBT%2B+student+rights%2C+was+a+sponsor+for+the+event.
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WSU students can now register a ‘chosen name’ — with some limitations

Students holding flags lined the steps of the Sedgwick County Historic Courthouse as part of the 2019 Wichita Pride Parade. GLSEN, an organization that advocates for LGBT+ student rights, was a sponsor for the event.

Students holding flags lined the steps of the Sedgwick County Historic Courthouse as part of the 2019 Wichita Pride Parade. GLSEN, an organization that advocates for LGBT+ student rights, was a sponsor for the event.

Daniel Caudill

Students holding flags lined the steps of the Sedgwick County Historic Courthouse as part of the 2019 Wichita Pride Parade. GLSEN, an organization that advocates for LGBT+ student rights, was a sponsor for the event.

Daniel Caudill

Daniel Caudill

Students holding flags lined the steps of the Sedgwick County Historic Courthouse as part of the 2019 Wichita Pride Parade. GLSEN, an organization that advocates for LGBT+ student rights, was a sponsor for the event.

As someone who goes by a name that’s not on their birth certificate, sophomore Eli Flores says it can be uncomfortable to be exposed to their legal name or have to correct others. 

But thanks to a change in Wichita State’s records system, Flores and other students may find some relief from the stress that comes with a name change. 

The university announced Monday that students who use a name other than their legal one can now register a “chosen name” with the Office of the Registrar that will appear on their student ID, class rosters, Blackboard and more. 

“I’m really happy with the university for taking this step to be more inclusive,” said Flores, a political science major and underserved senator in Student Government Association. 

COURTESY/SGA
Flores

Flores is nonbinary, meaning they do not define their gender as either masculine or feminine. The word is literally defined as “not relating to, composed of, or involving just two things.” 

But Flores said the change will help other students who use a name other than their legal one, such as those who are transgender or who use a middle or nickname. 

“I think it will be a positive experience for people who are trans to not have to out themselves if they have a [legal name] that’s typically associated with another gender,” Flores said.

Students who file a chosen name will also have the option to change the name on their diploma and in their WSU email address. The university is referring to the new chosen name option as a “myWSU name.” 

“As a diverse and inclusive campus community, Wichita State University recognizes that its students may identify themselves by names within the campus community that are different than their legal names,” the university said in the Monday issue of WSUToday. 

There are a set of instances in which those students’ legal names will still appear some of them involving the federal government. That includes financial aid forms, official transcripts, and reporting to state and federal agencies. 

COURTESY/WICHITA STATE UNIVERSITY
This screenshot shows the list of scenarios in which a chosen name would be use versus a legal name.

Another limitation is that each student can only change their chosen name twice per academic year.

While they’re optimistic about the change, Flores said they have doubts about its implementation.

“I have concerns about whether [the policy change] will be effective because of how technology can sometimes not work properly,” they said. 

At a recent trip to Student Health Services, Flores said a staffer took down their chosen name — only for the doctor to use their legal name anyways.

The SGA website also still lists Flores’s legal name. 

‘Inherent dignity’

The change in policy was accomplished in part by the efforts of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. 

Daniel English, graduate assistant at the ODI, said the new policy is about respecting the “inherent dignity” of each student. 

“Addressing someone by their chosen name is more than simply acknowledging a preference — it is an act of respect for their humanity,” English said. 

“First names typically have a gendered connotation associated with them, making someone’s name a huge indicator of how to attribute gender to them,” he said. “For transgender and non-binary students, associating oneself with a gendered name that doesn’t match their gender presentation can be embarrassing at best to life-threatening at worst.”

Students who would like to register a chosen name can do so by visiting the Office of the Registrar in 117 Jardine Hall. 

For more information and a full list of instances in which legal and chosen names will be used, click here or call the Office of the Registrar at 316-978-3090.