U Cards to allow preferred names

Besides a new design, U Cards at the University of Minnesota this year will include students’ and staff members’ preferred names.
Amid concerns that some lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students’ and employees’ legal names were inconsistent with the names they go by, the recent upgrade to the University’s electronic PeopleSoft and MyU system will now allow students to more easily change their names on official campus records like U Cards and class schedules.
In the past, students needed to legally change their names and provide the University with a driver’s license, passport or Social Security card showing a new name.
But a legal name change in Minnesota can be a costly process.
The push for an additional naming option follows a resolution from the Student Senate last year that asked for University databases to reflect preferred names without the need for legal name changes.
Some students expressed concerns that the names the University officially used on Moodle, One Stop and class rosters were different than students’ preferred names.
Stef Wilenchek, director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Ally Programs Office, said the changes were important for safety reasons.
“There’s some potential for using a card that doesn’t reflect your own identity to cause folks to possibly question ones’ gender identity or card usage,” Wilenchek said. “Some of the feeling of not feeling safe is a person can be outed pretty quickly, or if campus safety or police are looking for ID and it doesn’t match.”
As new students visit campus for orientation this summer, the University is promoeting the preferred name option over social media and printed fliers, said Zach 
Jesko, a U Card Office assistant and marketing intern.
“I think it’s a really good addition,” he said. “Some people have a name that everyone calls them by, so if they can’t have their preferred name on their U Card, there can be some confusion when they’re going about their day.”
Students who want to update their cards to display preferred names will have to pay $25 to replace a card less than five years old.
Andrea Jenkins, an assistant librarian and decades-long transgender advocate in Minneapolis, said her legal name change cost around $175 a few years ago, and the process took several weeks.
Name changes in Minnesota require applicants to live in the state for at least six months. 
“For college students, all these things can be pretty overwhelming to legally change your name,” Wilenchek said.
The LGBTA Programs Office has also worked with Boynton Health Service in previous years to ensure patients are addressed by their preferred names, Wilenchek said.
Boynton Chief Operating Officer Carl Anderson said the clinic updated its system last summer to allow patients to tell staff their preferred names. There are some
limitations with health insurance information that requires a legal name, he said, but this information is often confidential.
“Anywhere we’re interacting with a patient in person or calling them by name in the lobby, we’re using their preferred name,” Anderson said.