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U. of Idaho refines preferred name policy on ID cards

The University of Idaho recently implemented preferred names on its student ID, the VandalCard. But the university has since briefly paused the service as it decided to revisit both state and federal ID compliance considerations.

According to an official university release, campus administrators felt that the legal implications of the student ID card needed to be revisited as it pertained to the display of a non-legal name. After some deliberation, the VandalCard office determined that the inclusion of a legal statement on the back of the VandalCard would be sufficient to meet some common identification concerns such as fraud.

As with many universities, Idaho’s VandalCard is the official form of identification card for students, staff, faculty and affiliated persons. The VandalCard is used for accessing campus buildings and facilities, student computing labs, events, dining plans, the Student Health Center and the library. It is also required to obtain a financial aid check. VandalCards also remain valid for as long as the cardholder is an active student or employee.

Many campus cards carry these same privileges and access capabilities, and the addition of legal language to a student ID card is commonplace. However, the added legal language on VandalCards bearing a preferred name has raised questions from some students.

According to a report from the University of Idaho’s student publication, The Argonaut, the language added to the front of VandalCards will read “Not for official identification” and the back of VandalCards will read “The name shown on this card may not be the holder’s legal name.”

Beginning this week all VandalCards will be printed with this additional language regardless of whether the student, faculty or staff uses a preferred name or not.

The decision to add the legal disclaimers means that the cards already issued and in circulation with preferred names have to be replaced. Per the Argonaut’s reporting, this has led to a few students expressing frustration having already received a VandalCard bearing their preferred name.

The general best practices for the implementation of preferred names varies, with some campuses choosing to print preferred names on the front and legal names on the back, while others print only a preferred name. For more on preferred name policies and implementations, check out our previous coverage on the topic.

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