Preferred Name Policy FAQs
Why does West Chester University have a preferred name policy?
West Chester University recognizes members of its community use and identify with first names that are different from their legal names. A chosen or preferred name, may be a valuable component of a person's identity and impact their ability to successfully navigate the campus environment. Therefore, the University has established this policy that allows preferred first names to appear in select University systems and records, even if individuals have not changed their legal names. While anyone is welcome to use a preferred name, this policy was developed to respond to the needs of transgender and non-binary communities, international communities, and anyone who prefers the use of a name other than their legal name.
What is a preferred name?
A name designated in the University systems and communications as the preferred alternative to the individual's legal first name. Only first names may be changed to a preferred name at this time. The ability to change one's middle name to a preferred name will roll out at a later time.
What is a legal name?
The legal name is the first name and/or middle name that identifies a person for legal, administrative, and other official purposes. A person's legal name generally is the name that was given to the person for the purpose of registration at birth and which then appears on a birth certificate, but may change subsequently.
Does the policy allow me to set a preferred last name?
No, preferred name only applies to your first name. To change your last name, you would need to change your legal name.
Does the policy allow me to change my legal name? Does a preferred name affect my legal name?
No, your preferred name is for University related communication and identification. Your legal name remains unchanged through this process.
Where will my preferred name appear?
A student or employee's preferred first name will be used in place of the person's legal name in select University systems and records as follows:
- University identification cards
- Official email display name
- Phone directory
- Class and grade rosters
- Select student activities records
- Student Information System (MyWCU account)
- Learning management systems (e.g., D2L)
- University communications and mailings
- Press releases
- Social media
Where will my legal name be used?
Legal names will be used for official University records including, but not limited to, the following:
- Legal documents and reports produced by the University
- Student account statements
- Financial aid and scholarship documents
- Enrollment and degree verifications
- Employment and personnel records
- Paychecks, tax documents, and other payroll documents
- Benefits enrollment
Are there any preferred name restrictions?
Preferred name requests may be denied or revoked when the name is deemed inappropriate including, but not limited to, any of the following reasons: avoidance of a legal obligation; fraud; obscene language, or misrepresentation. Reports of such activity will be addressed pursuant to University policies and procedures and applicable law. The following offices may be notified as the circumstances warrant: Human Resources; Student Conduct; Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Provost; University Legal Counsel, and/or any appropriate law enforcement entity.
A preferred name request that is denied may be appealed to the Vice President of Student Affairs (students) or Vice President of Finance and Administration (employees), or their designees, if new information that was not previously available is presented that might change the nature of the request. All appeals must be made in writing, within 30 days of the notification of the denied request.
How do I request a preferred name?
Students and employees can request a preferred name through MyWCU. Complete directions can be found here .
How often can I request a preferred name?
Students and employees will only be permitted to change a preferred first name once per semester.
How do I delete or change my preferred name?
Go back through the preferred name process in MyWCU to change your preferred name back to your legal name.
Who will have access to my legal name?
Some departments are required to access your legal name due to regulatory guidelines/restrictions. These would include, but not be limited to Financial Aid, the Registrar's Office, the Bursar's Office, Public Safety, Human Resources and Information Services & Technology. The primary reporting systems for these departments will display your legal name. Departments that have access to your legal name will also see your preferred name.
Do I have to get a new University ID Card if I choose to have preferred name?
You are not required to update you University ID Card with your preferred name. If you chose to do so, a one-time waiver of the fee to update the student or employee identification card with the preferred name will be provided. Subsequent changes will result in an applicable fee. University identifications cards for students and employees are managed through the Ram Card Office by Student Services, Inc. (SSI). Visit this page for an up-to-date listing of the fee
May I have a new photograph taken for my new ID Card?
Yes, please inform the staff in the WCU Ram Card Office that you would like a new photograph taken before your new ID card with your preferred name is issued. A one-time waiver of the fee to update the student or employee identification card with the preferred name will be provided.
How do I change my legal name?
The process for changing your legal name varies by state and country of residence and reason for the change. If you have pursued a legal name change at the state or Federal level, please bring or send legal documentation to the offices listed below so that the University can update your record. U.S. residents must change their names with the Social Security Administration as well.
- Students: Complete the a request to change your legal name via your myWCU, here is a link with instructions on how to make this request”
- In addition, student employees must submit an updated I-9 form to the Payroll Office.
- Faculty and staff: Submit required legal documentation (Address/Name Change Form) to Human Resources.
Through the preferred name policy, can I indicate what pronouns I use?
No, that is not a feature in the process at this time.
See the Preferred Names and Pronouns- Best Practices for Faculty and Staff Overview
Will my university email address change when I select a preferred name?
No, the university uses a formula to produce student, faculty and staff email addresses. While your actual email address (ex: firstname.lastname@example.org) will not change, your display name will change to reflect your preferred name.
For preferred name changes, your email address will not change. If there is a legal name change, then your WCUPA email address will change based on your new legal name.
What if my preferred name is not showing up after it has been approved?
If you are having problems with your preferred name not showing in electronic systems, please submit a ServiceNow ticket.