Preferred-name system improves inclusiveness of MSU community

I would like to take this opportunity to applaud ASMSU and the university for moving forward on implementing a preferred-name system at MSU.

On Thursday night, ASMSU announced via Twitter that, by this time next year, StuInfo will contain an option for students to identify their preferred name. This will enable all students to be addressed by their preferred name, should that differ from their legal or assigned names.

Many members of our community use names other than their legal names to identify themselves. Some international students, concerned about the ability of native English speakers to pronounce their names, might see this as a way to ease their transition into U.S. schools.

Transgender students who have not changed their legal names and, in many cases, face insurmountable procedural challenges in attempting this, might use names that do not correspond with their birth names, potentially arousing undesired attention on their gender identity and/or birth sex. For other students, the concern might be that they identify with their middle names or simply with names other than their legal designations.

A preferred-name system is a tool that will improve the inclusiveness of our community and offer tangible benefits to those students who need this service. In her statement on core values, President Lou Anna K Simon said that exceptional quality and accessibility reinforce one another.

As an issue of accessibility — to access a level of comfort in the classroom and around campus — this system would impact the quality of life and education for students at Michigan State University.

Inextricably tied to this is inclusiveness — demonstrating that we value the presence and contributions of all Spartans in our dynamic, intellectual community. Perhaps most importantly, it is important for us to enact this change not simply because it aligns with nicely packaged rhetoric, but because it is the right thing to do for our Spartan family.

Actions such as this are the reason I am proud to be a Spartan alumnus.

Nick Pfost, social relations and policy ‘11 alumnus

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