Considerations for Faculty and Staff
Inclusiveness and Community
GVSU’s myName process supports the university’s commitment to creating inclusive and equitable classrooms, campuses, and communities. This process allows students, faculty, and staff to use a name of their choosing in many places where a legal name is not required, recognizing that people have many reasons for doing so.
Note that we do not use the word “preferred” when referencing people’s names or pronouns. Describing names and pronouns as preferred implies that they are optional. Instead, refer to an individual’s name, use name, or (if they have used the new GVSU process) myName. Similarly, instead of “preferred pronouns,” you might refer to an individual’s pronouns or the pronouns they use.
All employees play a critical role in furthering Grand Valley’s commitment to creating a campus where all Lakers can be their authentic selves. To protect individuals’ privacy and ensure that everyone feels welcome and included, ensure that all email, letter, and contact databases retrieve myName unless a legal name is required by law. Retrieve class lists from Blackboard, GVSU Faculty/Staff Additional Student Information, or class lists in Banner 9 (note that class lists in Banner 8 have not been updated to include myName and usage of those rosters should be avoided whenever possible).
Other steps community members can take include the following:
Considerations for Faculty
- Rather than reading names off class rosters to check attendance, allow students to tell you what name to call them. This eliminates the necessity for students to have to correct you when the name on the class list does not reflect who they are. While class lists may display myName, some students will choose not to indicate a myName for personal reasons.
- Model inclusive introductions and create opportunities for students to share their name and pronouns. For example, “Hi, my name is Louis Laker, and I use he/him pronouns.” This practice communicates to students that you are not making assumptions about who they are and that you respect their right to self-definition.
- Avoid separating students by gender in classroom exercises. Recognize that separating by gender can create discomfort or even danger for vulnerable students.
- Take care when introducing identity-based issues for classroom debate. These open the door for discourse that may make some students feel unwelcome and excluded.
- Add a statement to your syllabus affirming your commitment to creating an equitable and inclusive learning environment.
Considerations for Faculty and Staff
- Remember that you can’t tell a person’s gender or sexual orientation just by looking at them. Normalize a practice of not assuming names or pronouns. Many campus community members will use either “she/her/hers” or “he/him/him,” but others may use “them/them/their” or other gender neutral pronouns. Using “they/them” to refer to a single person has been common in vernacular English for a long time, but getting comfortable with it may take some practice.
- Model inclusive introductions and create opportunities for others to share their name and pronouns. For example, “Hi, my name is Louis Laker, and I use he/him pronouns.” This practice communicates to others that you are not making assumptions about who they are and that you respect their right to self-definition.
- When welcoming visitors or addressing groups, avoid gendered language, such as honorifics. For example, instead of saying, “ladies and gentlemen” or referring to people as “ma’am and sir,” consider welcoming people as “Lakers!” When providing services to groups, you could say “Can I help the next Laker?”
- Avoid separating event participants and guests by gender. Recognize that separating by gender can create discomfort or even danger for vulnerable community members.
- Respect confidentiality. If you are aware that an individual uses a myName, avoid disclosing their legal name to anyone who lacks a compelling reason to know it.
By adopting these and other practices, you can communicate to all campus community members that Grand Valley State University is a place of respect and inclusion.
Finally, remember that GVSU offers robust resources to support students and employees. The Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center regularly offers Queer & Trans 101 workshops for open registration, and center staff are always available for questions and consultation.