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UC Davis allows student IDs to feature non-legal names

A student ID can verify an individual’s identity with a simple swipe, tap or scan, instantly tethering the person who presents the card to a user account on the backend system. But what happens when the cardholder no longer uses their legal name?

It’s a challenge that the University of California at Davis is meeting head on by enabling students to have a non-legal name printed on their IDs. The university’s Preferred Name Program is acknowledging that an individual’s identity is just as much reflected in the moniker that they respond to as the information stored in the backend system.

The program was instituted following requests from UC Davis students, in an attempt to better accommodate transgender and foreign students who don’t use or respond to their given name. Understandably, a legal first name may be substituted on the student ID so long as the use of a preferred name is not for the purpose of falsification.

UC Davis acknowledges that a preferred name should be used whenever possible throughout the student’s university experience – including university records. UC Davis does, however, retain the right to modify, change, alter or rescind its preferred name service at the discretion of the university.

While students have the freedom to select their preferred name, the university reserves may remove a moniker if it contains inappropriate or offensive language, or is being used for misrepresentation.

The university will allow any students wishing to identify themselves with a preferred name to include that moniker with the student’s legal name in the university’s records. It is important to note that the student’s legal name is not being replaced, but rather the preferred name is being added to the student’s university record.

The preferred name program is being powered by UC Davis’ Campus Directory system.

A student’s preferred name will appear in the Campus Directory in lieu of their legal name as well as in other university records and documents. However, for paychecks or financial aid – which require the use of a legal name – the student’s preferred name will not be used.

Students interested in changing their first name can do so via UC Davis’ Campus Directory website. While a student can change first, middle and last names using this system, only changes to the student’s first name will be reflected in the university’s system, as changes to middle or last names requires a legal name change.

The modern college campus is a melting pot of culture, and while a student’s legal name is a cornerstone to their identity, their preferred name reflects their true individuality. So, what’s in a name? The answer for UC Davis students – and likely university students nationwide – is a lot.

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