Preferred First Name Process


Download Word DocumentMany students and employees prefer to use first names other than their legal/primary names. The SUNY Oneonta Preferred First Name Process allows students and employees to officially notify the college of their preferred first names, and have these preferred names used in several communication systems like Blackboard and email. There are limits to where the college will use preferred first names. 

This practice is consistent with current Title IX federal law protecting students against discrimination based on gender identity and expression. It is currently recognized as a best practice for supporting transgender and gender non-conforming members of college communities. Any member of the college community wishing to use a preferred first name other than their legal/primary name on a daily basis may take advantage of the Preferred First Name Process.

The most common questions about the Preferred First Name Process are answered below. The Gender and Sexuality Resource Center and Office of Equity and Inclusion would happily address other questions about it. 

What is a preferred first name?

A preferred first name is one that you choose to be called that is different from your legal/primary first name. 

What is the purpose of SUNY Oneonta’s Preferred First Name Process?

SUNY Oneonta recognizes that some community members wish to use a first name other than a legal/primary first name to identify themselves in daily use. SUNY Oneonta permits use of preferred names as long as the use of this different first name is not for the purpose of misrepresentation. The college extends this accommodation in order to help foster a more welcoming, supportive and respectful campus climate for all of its students.  

How do I request that the college use my preferred first name?

Students wishing to add a preferred first name or change an existing first name must complete and submit a Preferred First Name Request form (paper copies are available at the Registrar’s Office). Current employees wishing to use preferred names must contact the Office of Human Resources for assistance.

Where will the college use preferred first names?

Students’ preferred first names will appear on class rosters, grade rosters, advisee listings, myOneonta, email display and Blackboard. Students’ preferred first names also may appear in college promotional materials, news releases and related systems. Students’ legal/primary names will remain unchanged in all other college related systems.

Employees’ preferred first names will be listed on their email and in the directory. Employees’ preferred first names also may appear in college promotional materials, news releases and related systems. Employees’ legal/primary first names will appear on all other college records and documents (including employment records). New employees will be offered the opportunity to provide a preferred name upon hire.

Where will the college continue to use my legal first name?

The college will use students’ legal first names on official transcripts, enrollment verifications, and in most third-party database systems. The college will use employees’ legal first names with all documentation associated with official employment records.

Is choosing a preferred first name the same as legally changing my name?

No. However, the college encourages students who have changed their legal name to update their college record to reflect that change by completing a Change of Personal Information form (paper copies are available at the Registrar’s Office) and submitting it along with required documentation to the Registrar’s Office.

Who can choose or change a preferred first name?

Only you as a SUNY Oneonta community member can choose or change your own preferred first name. You cannot choose or change anyone else’s preferred first name.

Can I choose any preferred first name? 

Yes. However, the college reserves the right to reject or remove a preferred first name it deems inappropriate.

Can I change the preferred name I’ve chosen?

Yes. Simply complete and submit another Preferred First Name Request form reflecting the change.

Can SUNY Oneonta employees who use lists of students/employees for external communications use preferred names instead of legal names?

Upon request, ITS may be able to provide preferred names to employees who use lists of students/employees, depending on how the information is to be shared. Legal names will otherwise continue to be used as the default.  

How long does it take the college to begin using a preferred name?

The college typically will begin using a preferred name within two business days following the appropriate office’s receipt of a Preferred First Name Request form.  

What is an email display name?

There are three separate components to Oneonta email addresses: username, display name, and email aliases.


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