We received info (via twitter, third-hand, because why would the university ever contact its students directly) that the changes to CECIL’s naming system that would allow staff to access only preferred names over legal ones has been put on hold due to staff protest.
We have received lots of feedback on concerns for Cecil changing to show preferred name rather than legal names. It was never intended to cause problems for our teaching staff, therefore, we have put the change on hold for now, as further impact analysis and discussion is required to work out the best approach forward.
The original request came from the Equity Office to address issues on showing and using legal names when preferred names should be used, particularly on class rolls and the impact that this has on those students who are transgender.
The original proposal was for Cecil to only receive Preferred names from the central identity system (ie. https://iam.auckland.ac.nz), so we would not be exposing legal names in the wrong places.
You have raised a lot of concerns for this approach (thank you for those who has taken time to read the email and provide feedback constructively) and we will collate them and work out what would be the best way forward.
What seems to be happening is that ease-of-use for staff is being prioritised over student safety.
I have contacted Sally Eberhart, who these emails are coming from, outlining that this is a matter of student safety and the importance of this, but have yet to hear back.
It needs to be very clear that, for staff, this is a minor hassle, whereas it provides a massive amount of safety and peace of mind for trans students.
Update: apparently the issue lies around the entering of final marks:
“they took it back because they didn’t realise what kind of impact it may have on final marks. They were going to change names basically at the same time we were going to enter final marks. That could have been chaos.”
While mildly more understandable than staff throwing up a hassle due to it just being too complicated, surely there is a way around this. This absolutely needs to be implemented before the start of the summer semester, and I’d imagine it shouldn’t be all that hard to change it soon without causing chaos.
Update 2: Got a reply from Terry O’Neill, head of student Equity:
“Yes, the Equity Office has been working with others to achieve a change in the preferred name issue. However, it does seem that the original timeline was slightly ambitious given the relative complexity of the systems and process changes which are required. The slight delay in implementation is, categorically, not a result of staff resistance. On the contrary, university staff have been – in my experience – uniformly supportive of the need to make this change.”
Worth noting that in our – that is, the community’s experience, staff and lecturers are not always supportive and often leave us lacking. Also worth noting that Sally’s email seems in direct response to staff concerns and resistance.