What’s in a name? That’s up to Colorado State University students, who can indicate their preferred first name to be used in University systems and records, class and advisee rosters, email addresses, and the CSU directory.
“It’s part of our ongoing effort to make students feel welcome at CSU,” explained Erin Lane, coordinator for Parent and Family Programs and co-chair of the Policies and Practices for Transgender Support subcommittee of the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion. “We recognize that many individuals within our campus community may use a name other than their legal name to identify themselves.”
The option of designating a preferred first name, also known as a chosen first name, has been available to students for many years, according to Marianna Walsh of the Registrar’s Office, but in the past year improvements have been made to the systems and processes that use preferred first names campus-wide.
Preferred first names may be a middle name, an anglicized name, a professional name, a nickname, or one that is in alignment with a student’s gender identity. They are displayed alongside legal last name in University records and used to identify students in the classroom and other places on campus. Preferred first name is also used on all correspondence, including letters to parents, and graduating students may choose to have their preferred first name appear on their CSU diploma.
For example, a student with the full legal name of Katherine Grace Jeracki may prefer to be called Kate, or Grace, or K.G., or Jackie, rather than Katherine, and that’s what would be displayed in University records.
How to change your preferred first name
The CSU Admissions application allows students to indicate their preferred first name before they even come to campus. If you filled that out, that is the name that will appear in the system.
Enrolled students can manage their preferred first names through RAMWeb, on the Manage Student Record menu. Once a change is requested, it will begin to appear in all University records.
RamCards default to your legal name. After you enter your preferred first name in RAMWeb, wait three business days for it to take effect, then visit the RamCard office in Lory Student Center to request that it be added.
If you want to change your email name, you must log in to the Electronic Identity system at eid.colostate.edu; changes require confirmation and verification and may take a while to update.
Preferred first names may not be obscene, offensive or disruptive, or contain punctuation or special characters. The University reserves the right to remove any name containing such language.
For more information, visit the Registrar’s Office webpage at registrar.colostate.edu.
There are some places where the University is required to use a student’s full legal name, such as academic transcripts, billing and financial aid records, health insurance records, time sheets for student employees, housing contracts and other government documents. Changing your legal first name or last name is a legal process.
Of the current student population, more than 6,400 students have designated a preferred first name, either through RAMWeb or the eID process, according to the Registrar’s Office.
Debt of gratitude
Bruce Draper, professor of computer science and a member of the subcommittee, is happy to have preferred first names now available on class rosters for all instructors.
“I’ve been an advocate for the LGBTQ community for years, and the one thing faculty don’t want to do is unintentionally out someone,” he said. “People deserve to be who they are.”
To avoid confusion, Draper recommends faculty download class lists from Canvas, which shows preferred first names only, rather than Aries Web, which lists preferred along with legal first names.
The option to choose a preferred first name is available to all CSU students, but Mary Ontiveros, vice president for diversity, points out that it is especially important to those who identify as gender non-conforming.
“This is a change that really benefits students all across campus, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the transgender community for bringing the issue of transparency to the attention of the Commission on Diversity and Inclusion so we can improve our processes,” she said. “We can be more intentional about honoring who our students are.”