The University of New Mexico community can now choose the first name they prefer to have appear on their LoboCard.

The policy amendment signed by Interim President Abdallah went into effect on Jan. 4, and is now being rolled out through the LoboCard Office.

“My highest priority is to unite this campus in providing a safe, welcoming and respectful environment for everyone who works, studies, and visits here,” President Abdallah said.

The University recognizes that individuals may prefer to use first names other than their legal ones to identify themselves. As long as the use of this preferred or affirmed name is not for the purposes of misrepresentation or to avoid a legal obligation, the new policy means individuals may use their preferred or affirmed names on LoboCards. This will be beneficial for students, staff and faculty on numerous levels, including those who have multiple first names or prefer the use of a nickname or middle name. It also recognizes UNM’s support for the diversity of gender expression.  

“This is the first big step in a very long process.”  Janice Devereaux, LGBTQ Resource Center

“We welcome and support our transgender and gender non-conforming community members,” said President Abdallah. “Like all members of our community, they must be able to work, learn, and thrive here without fear of harassment or discrimination.”

The Preferred Name Initiative has been years in the making and was originally proposed by the LGBTQ Resource Center, which says it will make campus a significantly safer place for its students.

“Some students have been charged with academic dishonesty because the names they identify with do not match the names on the class roster,” said Janice Devereaux, who’s worked at the LGBTQ Resource Center for the last 4 years. “Others have been unintentionally outed in class when the incorrect name is called. This can create a real security issue for our students.”

Preferred or affirmed names are limited to alphabetical characters and certain special characters. Individuals wanting to change their preferred or affirmed name must present a government-issued photo ID matching the legal first and last name contained in the LoboCard Office’s carding software.

Numerous departments across campus have come together to make the initiative a reality, including the Registrar, Human Resources, Division for Equity & Inclusion, Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO), LoboCard and Dining Services. In order to implement the new policy, Information Technology (IT) had to do an overhaul of the LoboCard system, giving students the option to go into LoboWeb, type in their preferred name and pick-up their updated LoboCard the next day in exchange for their old card. The first name change is free.

I am really excited at the momentum and support behind the much-needed affirmed name project,” said Duane Arruti, chief information officer for IT. “Allowing our university community to appropriately identify themselves with affirmed name throughout our systems is much more complicated than one would think, but well worth the time spent on the effort.  I am thrilled that we are making a positive step in the right direction with the successful introduction of affirmed name on the LoboCard.”

Should a dispute arise on the appropriateness of a preferred or affirmed first name, the Registrar’s Office will make the final decision on the issue for students, and the appropriate employment office will make the final decision for faculty and staff. But as of right now, campus leaders are calling on the UNM community to use the honor system, and not abuse the new privilege.

The policy updates and implementatins are in line with changes other universities around the nation are making, including Stanford, University of Washington, University of Michigan and University of Colorado Boulder.

“This is the first big step in a very long process,” said Devereaux. “First is preferred names on LoboCards, but soon we hope they will be reflected on class rosters and, eventually, diplomas.”

Read more about the Preferred Name Initiative by visiting the Office of Equal Opportunity website, or clicking here.