U of R students can identify their gender preference

By Dale Johnson Posted: October 23, 2015 6:00 a.m.

The University of Regina allows students to indicate their preferred gender identity.
The University of Regina allows students to indicate their preferred gender identity. Photo courtesy of Trevor Hopkin - U of R Photography.

The University of Regina adopted a new policy last month that allows undergraduate applicants to declare preferred gender and/or a preferred name. This means students can self-identify their gender preference and have their preferred name used for all university processes. This initiative is led by the Registrar’s Office, and Registrar James D’Arcy answers questions about this.  

What is meant by preferred gender identity?

Gender identity can be the same or different than the one assigned at birth and encompasses a wide range of characteristics with which an individual identifies. For example, it might be a female who identifies as male, or a male who does not identify as male or female.

What is meant by preferred name?

This is the name that an individual prefers to use other than their legal name. An individual may prefer to be called Jim over their legal name of James, for example. In the case of gender identity, an individual whose legal name is Sally (traditionally a female-identifying name) may prefer the name George (traditionally a male-identifying name). In some instances a preferred name helps an individual fit in due to perceived cultural barriers from the use of their legal name; in other cases a student might feel more secure in using a preferred name over their legal name.

What was the previous policy?

Our previous policy required individuals to use their legal gender and legal name for most processes at the University of Regina.

Why was this change made?

The change was made as a result of requests from students to change their gender identity and/or to use a preferred name. The requests were made at a number of different service areas, including the Registrar's Office, IT Help Desk, Admissions and UR International. In some cases, students expressed a real concern that their safety and comfort on campus was in jeopardy.

How has this change been managed from a technical point of view?

The problem to be solved was that some of our systems do not communicate well with each other. Students have always been allowed to declare a preferred name but the only system this was reflected in was in our student information system (SIS). Class lists, UR Courses, and the UR Self Service system do not recognize the declared preferred name. During analysis, it was determined that over 200 processes would need to be modified to accommodate the import of preferred name from our SIS.

Because of the volume of system changes that needed to be made, it was decided that the University would allow a student to identify in a manner that reflected them as an individual. Preferred gender was one piece that we could easily manage from a systems perspective, but the problem remained in that our systems could not communicate preferred names with each other. It was decided that we would allow students to use their preferred name in place of their legal name so that this would be reflected in all University of Regina processes.

What will this change mean?

The gender self-identification process allows individuals to identify with a gender that reflects them as an individual. The use of a preferred name helps individuals identify in the way they want to be identified, removes perceived discrimination or cultural barriers, and can help facilitate a safe and secure environment. Both processes facilitate student comfort and safety.

How does a student go about making such a change?

Current students can ask to declare a preferred gender and/or preferred name, by submitting a petitions in confidence to me at:
Mr. James D'Arcy
University of Regina
AH 206
3737 Wascana Pkwy
Regina, SK S4S 0A2