Message on NU's chosen name and identity policy

April 02, 2021

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The following message was shared Thursday afternoon with the UNMC community by: Dele Davies, MD, UNMC senior vice chancellor for academic affairs; Susan Fritz, PhD, executive vice president and provost of University of Nebraska; Charlie Bicak, PhD, senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, University of Nebraska at Kearney; Michael Boehm, PhD, Harlan Vice Chancellor, Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Sacha Kopp, PhD, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, University of Nebraska at Omaha; and Elizabeth Spiller, PhD, executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

As an institution that is focused on cultivating a more inclusive culture, the University of Nebraska is committed to embracing opportunities to positively impact the lives of our faculty, staff, and students. One important step in this process is addressing how the university recognizes the full spectrum of gender identity.

At UNMC

Plans call for the Student Information System (Peoplesoft/NeSIS) to support gender identity/pronouns by Aug. 1. Procedures will be put in place for members of the university community to access and adjust their entries.

In the spring of 2020, a steering committee convened at the request of Susan Fritz, PhD, executive vice president and provost, to explore ways that the University of Nebraska could honor and support the complexities of gender for all university community members. After collaboration with stakeholders across the university and a review process that included the chief academic officers, president's executive cabinet, president's council, and a "feedback and socialization" period by other campus members, the Chosen Name and Gender Identity Policy (Executive Memorandum No. 40) was signed into effect by President Ted Carter on Sept. 15, 2020.

This policy applies to all University of Nebraska students, faculty and staff, and it provides support for any of our NU community members who may decide to identify a chosen name. Chosen names are names that an individual wants to be known by or identifies with in the university community and may be different from the individual's official name of record. The policy allows all members of the University of Nebraska community to identify and use a gender identity instead of, or in addition to, their sex where possible. A person's chosen name and gender identity pronouns should be used whenever possible. Chosen names will appear in all university systems where available and technically feasible (e.g., class rosters, grade rosters, etc.) and also can include the use of chosen names in conversation, email communication or formal settings. The non-binary options found in the policy also are used by entities with which the university interacts. Examples include College Board, Educational Testing Service and other common/national applications, as well as some states that also have non-binary gender values available for selection. Instituting these policies also ensures we align with shifts in the educational ecosystem and stay ahead of advancements in equity.

There are a few notable exceptions to this policy:

  • Prospective students and employees will be required to provide their full legal name when they apply for admission or employment with the university.
  • Chosen names should not be used for the purpose of misrepresentation, avoiding legal obligations or in any way that violates university policies or federal, state or local laws.
  • Chosen names that are not possible to implement (names with symbols or images) are prohibited.

There may be instances where the approach, timeline or participants vary for policy implementation. Therefore, we have identified leads who will take the principal role in executing this policy, with support from other areas as needed. Learning and development opportunities are being developed and will continue to be shared to ensure you are equipped with the tools you need for effective policy implementation and/or adherence.

With this new policy, the University of Nebraska not only acknowledges all gender identities but also establishes norms of respect between students, staff and faculty. It also shows NU's commitment to equity and inclusion. We encourage you to share information about the Chosen Name and Gender Identity Policy as well as the recommendations found in the Non-Binary Gender Values Steering Committee report in your conversations with colleagues as we make this shift toward a more inclusive campus environment at NU.

An accompanying recommendation report from the Non-Binary Gender Values Steering Committee can be accessed here as well as an FAQ for additional background information.

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