Preferred Name Policy
About This Policy
Policy on the Use of Legal and Preferred Names
Legal Name – The name that is recognized by state and/or federal law as an individual’s legal identification.
Preferred Name – A name different than an individual’s Legal Name that the individual selects and that the University approves for use within the University environment.
II. General Policy
Montclair State University recognizes that some individuals have a strong preference to use and be known by a name other than their Legal Name for reasons related to their gender identity, cultural background, or for other social or personal reasons. It is the University’s policy to permit students and employees to designate, use, and be known within the University community by a Preferred Name, to the extent that doing so is consistent with law, assures the integrity of the University’s official records, and is reasonably feasible to accommodate within the University’s record-management systems.
III. Application for, and Designation of, a Preferred Name
When a student wishes to use a Preferred Name rather than a Legal Name within the University community, the student may apply to the Office of the Dean of Students to make that change. Employees may make an application for such a change to the Division of Human Resources. If the application is accepted, the University will take appropriate steps as soon as reasonably practicable to modify information and record-management systems to include both the individual’s Preferred Name and Legal Name as appropriate. An application for change of name may not be approved by the University if, for example, the change is deemed by the University to be inconsistent with law or with other University policies or damaging to, or not in the best interest of, the University or the University’s students and employees.
Students who apply for use of a Preferred Name shall receive a written response from the Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life informing them of the action taken in regard to their applications. Employee applicants shall receive a written response from the Vice President for Human Resources informing them of the action taken in regard to their applications.
IV. Use of Preferred Name
Use and display of a Preferred Name will be subject to the University’s record-management capabilities, the requirements of law, and assurance of the integrity of the University’s official records. Within these constraints, the Preferred Name will normally be used, for example, for:
- University ID card
- Student and Employee directory information
- Class lists and grade reports
- Advising lists
- Learning management systems
- Building/service access systems
- Meal plan/payment systems
- Red Hawk Dollars
- Housing rosters
- Class rosters
- Convocation and Commencement programs and announcements
V. Use and Change of Legal Name
Even when an individual has been approved to use a Preferred Name within the University, the University will use an individual’s Legal Name when doing so is consistent with law, required to assure the integrity of the University’s official records, or necessitated by the limitations of the University’s record-management systems. For example, the Legal Name will normally be used for:
- Admissions records
- University enrollment verifications
- Employment and personnel records
- Paychecks and tax documents
- Financial aid records
- Medical records
- Disciplinary records
- Law enforcement records
- Visa and immigration records
- Graduation applications
The University will not amend its records to change a Legal Name unless an individual provides required federal and/or state documentation in support of the request. Such required documentation may include:
- Judgment entered by a State Court with a raised seal permitting a change of name
- Judgment of Divorce entered by a State Court permitting the individual to resume any name used by the spouse or partner in a civil union before the marriage or civil union, or to assume any surname
- Certification issued in connection with a naturalization proceeding authorized by Act of Congress that a change of name was permitted by decree or court order with jurisdiction to naturalize persons as citizens of the United States
- Certificate of Marriage or Birth from a municipal or State Register of Vital Statistics
A request by a student to change a Legal Name on University records must be submitted to the Office of the Dean of Students. A request by an employee to change a Legal Name on University records must be submitted to the Division of Human Resources.
VI. NetID and Email Address
Students will have the option to request the use of a Preferred Name as part of the application process to the University, and prospective employees will have the option to request the use of a Preferred Name as part of the initial employment process. If use of a Preferred Name is approved by the University at that time, the Preferred Name will be used for the student’s or employee’s NetID and Email address. If such a request is not made in the initial application or employment process, the Legal Name will be used for the NetID and Email address. Once a name, either the Preferred Name or the Legal Name, is entered into the system for NetID and Email address, it will be permanent for those uses and will not be changed.
VII. Compliance with Policy
Members of the University community are expected to respect an individual’s use of a Preferred Name in accordance with this policy. Concerns about violations of this policy may be addressed by students to the Office of the Dean of Students and by employees to the Division of Human Resources.
VIII. Informational Notice to Students or Employees Considering an Application for the Use of a Preferred Name
Individuals wishing to use a Preferred Name should be aware that use of a Preferred Name constitutes use of an alias, and, as such, may be required to be disclosed during background checks and other legal processes or may be prudent to disclose to avoid the appearance of concealing information. This disclosure responsibility may be life long and may include every Preferred Name used even if changed or discontinued in the future. The existence of an alias may trigger heightened scrutiny during federal, state or other security clearance investigations and background checks, especially if the Preferred Name is not voluntarily disclosed. The University will disclose and/or confirm a Preferred Name when such disclosure is required by law.