Preferred First Name Process

Who is Eligible?

Many 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.

If you are looking for state-based legal ID change policies, please go here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked 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 complete and submit a Preferred First Name Request form (you will be prompted to log in), along with a photo ID to the Office of Human Resources, located in Netzer Administration Building room 208.

Where will the college use preferred first names?

Students’ preferred first names will appear on class rosters, grade rosters, advisee listings, myOneonta, ID cards, 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, ID cards, 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.

Employees that have changed their legal name will need to contact Human Resources to update their records. If Employees have questions about the legal name change process, they can contact Human Resources for instructions.

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.

Email display name and email alias example

How will my name look for Commencement?

Graduates will have the opportunity to provide their preferred first name in their diploma application. Graduates can indicate what name they would like printed on their diploma; this information will be what is also printed in the ceremony program booklet. On the day of the ceremony, cards will be provided for graduates to fill in what name they would like read aloud. 

What will the ID card look like with my preferred first name?

Below is an image of the template for the ID card. Preferred first names will be located on the front of the ID card while your legal name will be located on the back of the ID card, at the bottom left corner of the card. If the name change is related to an individual’s gender identity, the normal $20 charge for an updated card will be waived. For other requests for name changes and updated cards, such as the use of a nickname, there will be a $20 charge for the updated card.

ID Card Image Template
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