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Preferred names highlight true value of identification

Andrew Hudson   ||   Jul 28, 2015  ||   ,

We often talk about the value of the campus card, be it providing access to buildings, making payments or enabling admittance to the many on-campus services that make college life tick. The value that’s perhaps not talked about enough, however, is the social value that the credential holds and the subsequent affinity that students feel for the university that issues the card.

I’m referring to a different kind of identification – not identification to, but identification with.

I am the proud alum of two different universities, and despite my alumni status, I closely guard both IDs in my wallet. This holds true for millions – if not tens of millions – of college grads new and old alike. It exemplifies perhaps the greatest value that a campus card holds for students – a link to the institution they love.

In this issue we explore the topic of preferred names on cards and in campus systems. It’s an emerging trend as students across the country are petitioning universities to acknowledge non-legal names, nicknames and other alternative designations on student IDs. While it poses new and unexpected challenges to campus card administrators, they’re challenges I believe should be embraced.

Universities require students to present their IDs on and off campus and continually strive to increase the number and variety of events requiring ID presentation. Crucially, each time a student presents their campus card, they not only display a personal identity but an institutional affiliation as well.

The LBGTQ community has, in part, led the preferred name charge, raising the question and starting a dialogue about the importance of identity.

A university should not marginalize even one of its students, but the unfortunate truth is that members of our campus community have experienced, to varying degrees, relegation. Though it is certainly a small step, this subset of our campus population deserves to be as proud of their campus card as their majority peers.

As I see it, these students have gone to the right place. Campus card administrators are answering the call and providing a great service. I’ve seen this to be true as a number of universities and card office managers are working to fix an issue that is perhaps peripheral to the masses but merits solving for the few.

As more universities institute preferred name policies, the affinity that students hold for their cards – and the institution – is not just kept in tact, but strengthened. It’s a trend that is moving in a positive direction and reminds us of the true power of identification.

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