Success! University of Auckland revises their preferred name system

Note: this policy change is currently sadly on hold, see details here

What a day! We’ve just received an email which I will paste below, seeing as it is not otherwise publicly available:

“Dear all,

This is a notice to inform you about the upcoming changes to all the names in Cecil & Its impact on your courses.

*Summary*
Names in Cecil will be changed from legal names to preferred names and this is likely to impact on any processes you have involving checking student ID card against the Cecil class list; informing your staff to work with ID numbers when the names don’t match.

*Background*
In the past, we have received feedback from staff and students to show the preferred name in Cecil and lately there has been a raising need and urgency to address the issue of showing students’ legal names rather than their preferred names, especially for particular groups of students. So we been working with other groups in ITS and with the Equity Office to make this happen sooner than later.

*Timeline & changes*
In Cecil, hopefully within the next month, we will be updating all the names to the preferred names from the Enterprise Person Registry, ie. the preferred names that you have nominated through https://iam.auckland.ac.nz/. Only if there isn’t a preferred name, then the primary name (ie. the legal name) will be the one displayed in Cecil.

Through this change, Cecil will only receive the preferred names from the central systems, we no longer will have the students or staff’s legal name, unless there is no preferred name specified.

*Impact on the course*
Most importantly impact on your course would be on any processes involving checking student’s ID card against the Cecil class list.
Currently, Student ID card would only display legal names. When we make the change, Cecil’s class list will have preferred names instead (where applicable).
This means, if you are checking students’ ID cards, you will notice some students would have different names on Cecil vs what’s on their ID cards.
The quick solution is to check the ID card number. The ID number will remain unchanged, so if you are finding the names not matching, please check the ID numbers.
Please do ensure all staff involved in your courses are aware of this change coming up.

I will send out another email once the changes have been made.

Should you have any concerns with this change, please feel free to contact myself.

Thank you.”

We’re all fantastically pleased with this result, especially considering what we’d heard from many, if not all parties involved – UoA Equity, the QRO, etc – was that the issue “was being discussed,” that it was “an IT issue,” and “would not be resolved until CECIL went through an overhaul in 3 years.” I’m very pleased to see that this 3 year plan – which would mean students would go through being outed at the start of a new semester potentially nine times (if they were taking summer school) – has been reduced to a “within a month” plan.

I am very grateful to those who have been pushing on this issue over the years – various student groups, the Queer Rights Officer (despite his lack of support this year), AUSA in recent meetings – but I and others feel that it is important to recognise the fact that this is clearly the result of heightened student effort, visibility, activism, and anger within the last few months. The email itself states:

lately there has been a raising need and urgency to address the issue of showing students’ legal names rather than their preferred names, especially for particular groups of students. So we been working with other groups in ITS and with the Equity Office to make this happen sooner than later.

A lot of us came back this semester weary and tired after the efforts of the first half of the semester, and it’s absolutely gratifying to see some change.

What this means going forward:

  • Having been told that this change would be “impossible” until the CECIL overhaul, we can now very reasonably doubt what the uni considers to be possible and impossible and push for more change in this and other areas
  • Student action works
  • Seeing as CECIL plays a part in student ID cards, and that the uni are willing to refer to us by preferred name on class lists and assignment cover sheets, it should now be possible to get CORRECT ID cards printed
  • NO more trans students will be outed by the roll in their classes, tutorials, and labs. This is a huge step forward for the safety of trans students on campus.

I want to thank Emilie Rakete and Pema Wu, who have instrumental in getting this to happen, as well as the other trans staff and students on campus and members of Trans on Campus. I also want to thank Jess Storey of AUSA – things have been shaky but she brought this issue to the uni council regardless.

Onward to more change!

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