Starting this spring, a Missouri Western revised a policy in order to allow students to switch to their preferred first name on several university records, joining 159 other colleges and universities in adopting this policy. This change is designed to help the school be more inclusive to all students in order to make them feel more comfortable and to improve their educational experience.
This change is especially valuable to transgender students who prefer to be called by a first name that aligns with their gender identity. Rae Fritzler, a transgender student and member of the MWSU Pride Alliance, who led the petition that led to the change feels that it will allow transgender students to feel more comfortable in the classroom.
“It’ll make it easier on a lot of students who don’t feel like they belong to that name and want to change it to the name that they identify themselves as. And it’ll make it comfortable for them, easier for them to be in class when anyone call them by their name and when the teacher knows them by their name,” Fritzler said.
Adam McGowan, Missouri Western’s Title IX Coordinator, believes that this change will help a number of students in addition to transgender students.
“This allows them to address the student as the student prefers, whether they go by a middle name. Often times international students will pick a more American name just to make it easier,” McGowan says.
This policy could lead the way to further accommodations for LGBTQ students at Missouri Western. Fritzler feels that the success that the Pride Alliance had in petitioning for this change could be a “kickstart” in successful lobbying for further improving the experience of university’s LGBTQ students.
“Eventually, we’d like to be able to allow students to update gender as well as their name, and a way to perhaps list pronouns, the preferred pronouns that they go by,” McGowan said.
These first name changes appear only on non-legal records at Missouri Western, including class rosters and student information on sites such as Moodle and Goldlink which use university email addresses. It does not change the first name that is displayed on legal records such as financial aid reports or payroll information.
Students wanting to change from their listed to their preferred first name can do so at the Registrar’s Office in person, by mail, or with an email from a university email address.