New Preferred Name Policy draft in comment period

By Anna Toth


Cleveland State University introduced a potential policy this past week that would allow students and campus community members to register a preferred name in the university’s system.

The Preferred Names Policy is in the Comment Period, allowing students to comment on the policy until Nov. 24.

The policy would allow preferred names listed in the system alongside their legal names, opening the door for use of the preferred name whenever possible. It was introduced to meet the needs of campus community members who no longer go by their legal names, such as individuals those who are trans or gender non-binary identifying.  

According to draft policy — available on the Office of University Compliance’s website until Nov. 24 — the preferred names will be available for student ID cards, class rosters, Blackboard, Starfish and advising records as well as email directory display names, alumni affairs records and commencement programs.

This means that a student going by a preferred name can register that with the university and have it be communicated to professors, as well as have their name on Blackboard match their preferred name.

However, students’ legal names will still be used for official transcripts, enrollment, diplomas and financial aid as well as other things. A full list of what legal names and preferred names will be used for under the new policy is available in the draft policy on the Office of University Compliance’s website.

In addition, the use of a preferred name is also available to employees of Cleveland State and will be used “except when a legal name is required.” Legal names are required for payroll records, tax forms, reporting to state and federal agencies, immigration records, pension and pension alternatives, employee benefits enrollment and professional licensure among other things.

While a preferred name would be used whenever possible, preferred names can’t be used in any manner that goes against university policy or federal, state or local law. This includes avoiding legal obligations or misrepresenting oneself.

Preferred names cannot include symbols or numbers. Name cannot include obscenities. The university also has the right to remove a preferred name from a campus community member’s record without notice.

This policy is still in the comments period, meaning none of the suggested changes in the policy will go into effect until the policy moves to the next phase. In the next phase, the policy will be sent to the Board of Trustees, the President or designees of those parties for approval. All comments received in the comment period will be reviewed in that time as well.

A full draft of the preferred names policy is available online until Nov. 24.

Students can email their comments to