Genders, First Names and Pronouns
Some direction for students on how to digitally represent themselves at Evergreen.
When you were admitted to Evergreen, you started with a recorded legal name and gender marker. In many cases this name and gender is absolutely important and cannot be substituted or changed except through a legal name and/or legal gender change. Some examples are official college transcripts, federal and state financial aid, payroll and tax information and the like. In systems such as these, we are required to use the legal name and gender. Using a preferred name or gender is not optional and is out of our control. In systems internal to Evergreen though, identifiers of people are not so absolute. It is an important Evergreen value to provide students the ability to choose how they represent themselves digitally, which may extend beyond this narrow interpretation of identity when possible. Some ways already exist for students (with help at times from their faculty) to control how their chosen name appears in some of our more frequently used systems.
Request a Preferred First Name
Registration and Records offers students the ability to have a preferred first name entered into the college’s student information system (Banner). Some Evergreen systems can display this information and other systems not so well.
At this point in time, we know these systems are connected to, and can use the preferred first name information from Banner:
- Timesheets – If you are a student staff and are paid by the College, your preferred name will display when you are logging your time or certifying your timesheet.
- Evaluations– Your preferred first name will appear on the page where you write and submit your evaluations. No name (legal or preferred) appears on your academic progress or academic statement pages. On the faculty side, your faculty currently sees your legal name and gender on record. We must use your legal name and gender in your transcripts. However, your faculty may use your preferred name and gender neutral pronouns in the text of your evaluations. To help those who read your evaluations, the faculty must reference your legal name in the first sentence. They may then use your preferred name throughout the rest of the evaluation.
- Canvas – The preferred name in Banner will automatically fill in Canvas if the “display name” in Canvas has not already been altered. You can go back at any time and change your display name in Canvas. More on Canvas further down in this post.
Evergreen has many systems that display student name, gender and/or username (what you use to login to my.evergreen.edu). Some are not currently able to display a preferred name. Some are required to display your legal name. Most obvious of these systems to the student are:
- Evergreen email –Your assigned Evergreen email is based on your legal name at the time you were admitted. The College is working towards implementing a new email system, which will allow for more flexibility in how names are displayed in email.
- Academic Statement– This document is the first page of your transcript and therefore is required to have your legal name in the header.
- Class lists –Class lists currently display legal name. We are working toward adding your preferred first name from Banner to these lists.
Some systems use Evergreen "usernames" as identification instead of Banner information. In these systems, people can update the displayed or preferred name in the profile information. These systems include;
- Greener Commons – people can always change their display name to whatever they want.
- WordPress – This is the application that runs blogs.evergreen.edu and sites.evergreen.edu. Like Greener Commons, you can update their profile to whatever you want.
Additional Canvas Tips
For those use use it, Canvas is an important communication application between students and faculty in an academic program. As such faculty can control some of how this information is displayed within a course site.
If a student is not interested in adding a preferred first name to Banner, encourage them to change their display name in their Canvas profile at the very least to reflect how they wish to be identified. This will change what name is displayed on their discussion posts, messages and comments in Canvas. Here’s the link on how anyone can change their display name in Canvas;
It is also recommended that faculty hide the "People" tab in the course navigation. The faculty will still see this (it will be grayed out but accessible) and use the associated tools (like creating groups), but the tab will disappear for all registered students. Below is a link on how to do hide/show navigation elements in your course site;
Unfortunately there are a few additions to Canvas that do not use the display name properly. Faculty should be aware that if they use the conference or collaboration tools inside of Canvas that these, since they are 3rd party plugins, do not use the display name. We are working with Canvas to put this on the list of things to fix.
Additional Wordpress Tips
Evergreen username or alias is the default name used by WordPress. Like Greener Commons, students' first and last names are not imported from Banner. Students can edit their profile at any time to update their display name (the username is the default) and set this to any first and last named they desire. This is important because unlike some of the other applications that are not shared outside of Evergreen, blogs can be publicly visible so adjusting one's profile can be an important way to represent oneself.
Formal Name Change Process
Students can go through the process of requesting a formal name change. This process is well documented but is a legal change so requires the necessary documentation to process. For more on that, see the resource page developed by Registration and Records on how to walk through the process of doing a legal name change with the college.
To reiterate, this is an imperfect system. We are working to actively improve this important service for students to be easier, cleaner and more predictable. As with many of these kinds of ecosystems (evergreen.edu) where application has been built on system has been built on application like a Russian nesting doll, it will take time and resources to sort it all out. If anyone has had any additional experiences with these or other systems, we'd love to hear from you.