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New Mexico's road to preferred names

A detailed look at UNM's three-phase preferred name process

Andrew Hudson   ||   Mar 15, 2019  ||   

The University of New Mexico is in the throws of building a preferred name policy for student ID cards. The three-phase process has already seen affirmed or preferred first names added to LoboCards and diplomas, with more support to come.

According to an official university release, the process began in January 2018 when the university made policy amendments that would enable preferred names to appear on campus cards and other university documentation. The policy changes allow students to use first names other than their legal ones to identify themselves, as long as the preferred name isn't used for the purposes of misrepresentation or to avoid legal obligations.

The policy is extended to students, staff and faculty on numerous levels, and is designed to recognize student's gender expression, those who have multiple first names, or those who prefer the use of a nickname or middle name.

“I am thrilled at the continued progress we are making on integrating affirmed/preferred name throughout our campus systems in direct support of individuals’ self-identification,” said Duane Arruti, chief information officer for UNM, in a university release. “This is a great example of UNM leveraging technology to support the culture and spirit of our campus community.”

According to statistics from the University of New Mexico Information Technologies, 546 people have changed their first names or added an affirmed name to their record utilizing via the Affirmed/Preferred First Name Initiative. That figure breaks down to 53 faculty, 65 staff, 427 students, in addition to affiliates.

Affiliate status at UNM refers to is someone who works at the university in some capacity but is not employed by UNM and is not registered as a student. For example, someone working for food services who is paid by a third-party vendor but is still required to have a UNM ID.

UNM also created an Affirmed/Preferred First Name steering committee that has been working on the implementation of the initiative in a three-phase process. The first two phases are now completely functioning, with phase three projected for implementation by summer 2019.

Phase I of the project involved enabling students, faculty and staff to put their preferred first name on LoboCards, UNM's student ID card. The conversion involved coordinating changes between the LoboCard Office, university IT, the Registrar’s Office, and others. Phase I was completed and implemented in late January 2018.

Students, faculty, staff and affiliates now  implement the change. The process first involves logging into LoboWeb and entering the preferred first name. Affirmed/preferred first names require a 24-hour update period for the information to be pushed out to the carding software, and before a new card can be issued.

The LoboCard Office offers one free name change to accommodate the preferred name initiative. Since only affirmed/preferred first names are included in this initiative, the one-time offer only applies to reprints of first names. Any subsequent name changes after the first will carry a $10 name change fee.

Phase II of the initiative involved implementing changes to the diploma process and went live just before Spring graduation 2018. Effective March 14, students with a degree status GP (Graduation Pending) on the current term who have already created their affirmed/preferred name through LoboWeb will be able to access the electronic Diploma Information form.

The Diploma Information form enables students who are "Graduation Pending" to select the name they wish to display on their diploma. Alumni can also add or change a preferred first name in their UNM record at no charge using the Alumni Affirmed/Preferred First Name Change Request form.

Once the student’s name change has been added to the UNM record, the student or alumni may use the Duplicate Diploma Request form to request a copy displaying the new affirmed/preferred first name for a $15 fee.

For now official UNM transcripts will continue to display only legal names.

Phase III will include the creation of a new LoboWeb page dedicated to collecting gender identity and preferred pronouns. It will allow the reporting community within UNM to use the collected information in welcome letters and other communications. Phase III is scheduled to be completed by summer 2019.

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