NIU offers preferred names on MyNIU

By Lindsey Salvatelli

DeKALB — Students like Ronan Kaiser are now able to have less anxiety about being misidentified when attending their first day of class, thanks to the name-change option on MyNIU.

Last November, students were given the option to formally submit their proper/preferred name through their MyNIU accounts. Once a student utilizes the registry, his or her preferred/proper name appears on all of their class rosters within 24 hours.

Data shows 140 students have used the feature since its November debut, said Brett Coryell, vice president of the Department of Information Technology and chief information officer.

While anyone is free to register their preferred/proper name, this change is a progressive step toward creating a more inclusive campus community for all students, said Molly Holmes, director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center.

Sophomore sociology major Riss Carter, whose preferred pronoun is Riss, said Riss felt as though Riss was constantly misgendered and had to out oneself prior to the implementation of a name change option. Carter is also a community adviser, and the adviser roster would identify Carter by Riss’s birth name, which often led to confusion and made Riss uncomfortable.

“I’m really glad that [NIU officials] finally did something about it, and [that] we’re able to change it,” Carter said.

Before the preferred name option was available, students were able to work around the barrier by contacting the Division of Information Technology and their professors, junior history major Ronan Kaiser said.

“[The preferred name option] was something that was very nice to have because it wouldn’t be an email at the beginning of the semester, every semester, to your professor,” Kaiser said.

Kaiser said individuals at the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center told him about the name change process. He said he preferred the online proper name option so he wouldn’t need to correct his professors if they used the incorrect name or pronoun during class.

“It wasn’t really told to us very far in advance [of] it being released, and [NIU is] just now doing name changes with the OneCard,” Kaiser said.

Students can have their OneCard name change fees waived until Feb. 17. Those who make changes to their name on OneCard after Feb. 17 will have to pay a $10 fee.

“OneCard wasn’t an option before because it was strictly related to [students’] name[s] that they applied with, and that was tied to their [legal documentation], whereas now, OneCard is part of this self-directed name option through MyNIU,” Holmes said.

Carter said the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center makes a consistent effort to keep NIU’s LGBTQ+ community informed.

Transitions is a club for gender-nonconforming and trans-identifying students within the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center with the purpose of building support among their community as well as community outreach, according to its website.

While NIU officials have taken action for a more inclusive campus, Carter said there is a need for more gender-neutral restrooms and an increase of professors who complete ally training.

The ally finder compiles the names of faculty and staff who have completed ally training.

“When I’m looking for classes, the first thing I do is go to and look on the ally finder and make sure the professor is registered as an ally,” Carter said.