By Laura Hull
After nearly 10 years of rallying led by the Trans Collective, Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) is now allowing students to decide how their first name appears in class rosters and online.
In a recent news release, the university announced that students can now choose how their first name will appear online. “The chosen name will appear for internal purposes such as the class roster, grade roster, D2L and Google Meet and Zoom display names,” the statement read.
All official documents will still require students’ legal names.
“This has always been a need within our community,” said Ollie Coombs, coordinator of the Trans Collective. The Trans Collective is one of the six equity service centres of the Toronto Metropolitan Students’ Union.
In the past, the university said it would be challenging to implement such a change, given that the software that runs RAMSS and D2L Brightspace didn’t allow for the user to input their name change, according to Coombs.
The reaction so far has been positive for the Trans Collective. “Already, folks have come to us and said thank you for passing this information along because we need it,” said Coombs.
“This has always been a need within our community”
He said the group has been pushing the school since 2013 to allow students to use their preferred names. The change is also significant for students who use a nickname, an anglicized name, a cultural name or any other name that’s different from the name they were given at birth, Coombs added.
Being able to alter the way their names appears is also a welcome change for students, who say it promotes inclusion.
“I think having easily accessible name change options fosters an environment of inclusivity and sends a message that TMU is committed to caring for queer students,” said Alison Air, a second-year philosophy student. “I’m really happy I get to use my preferred name on D2L, although I wish [I had] the opportunity to use my chosen last name, too,” she added.
In an email to The Eyeopener, the university said, “Student Records is committed to creating an environment where all individuals are treated with respect and dignity, and supporting all students to reach their academic potential.”
Although TMU previously had a process to help students wanting to use a chosen name at the university, it “recognized that this didn’t necessarily meet the needs of all students and we could do better, the statement said.”
Prior to the fall 2022 semester, Coombs said the school only recognized name changes through legal changes. “The reason that I pushed for my legal name change is because the school didn’t have an option for me otherwise,” he said.
The school has been developing and implementing an official policy that [allows] for the use of a chosen/preferred name for internal purposes for some time.”
Students can make the request for a name change via RAMSS in the ‘Profile’ section under Personal details on the site.
The change will be seen immediately in the Student Administration System, but will take some time to show up across other university systems, according to the official policy released by TMU.