The Preferred Name policy at Washington University in St. Louis lets students change their names in most university information systems without pursuing a legal name change.
By allowing students to use a preferred name, the university hopes to give students an empowering, safe and nondiscriminatory university experience. Reasons for name changes may include transgender or gender nonconforming identities, international students or other students who wish to adopt an English language name, students known by names that are different from their legal names, or students who have popular names who wish to use a different one.
You should feel empowered to be called by the name of your choosing. Equally importantly, no student should feel pressure to take on an Anglicized name for acceptance or the convenience of others. Beginning in the fall of 2015, students who list a preferred or familiar name on their admissions application automatically will have their preferred names entered into the university system. Alternatively, at any time, preferred names can be entered via WebSTAC, and the change shall be reflected within one business day.
Procedure and Effect of Change in Student Records
You may add a preferred first name to your academic record in WebSTAC, under the “Profile” tab. Your preferred name will be used on most university documents, systems and communications. Specifically, your preferred name will be displayed in the following places*:
- Advising Records (along with legal name)
- Alumni Records (along with legal name)
- Class Rosters
- Cornerstone Records (along with legal name)
- Diplomas (optional)
- Email Address (optional) and Email Display Name
- Grade Reports
- Housing Rosters
- Judicial Records (along with legal name)
- Online Campus Directory
- Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS) (along with legal name)
- Student Health Services Records (along with legal name)
- Study Abroad (along with legal name)
- University Publications
- WebSTAC (along with legal name)
- WUSTL Key Login (optional)
- WUSTL ID Card
*Special Note for Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (WUSM):
WUSM will make a good faith effort to use preferred first names where feasible and appropriate. Some professional licensing requirements necessitate the official name of record be utilized. For example, ID badges produced for students doing clinical work at VA hospital locations are subject to strict federal guidelines that require use of the official name of record. In addition, all diplomas must utilize the official name of record to meet credentialing requirements.
Student Action Required for Preferred Name Display
Campus ID Card
Once added to WebSTAC, preferred names will be reflected on WUSTL ID cards. Students are encouraged to re-print their WUSTL ID cards as soon as possible, at no additional cost, if replacing an existing card to reflect a preferred name. Students also have the option of retaking their photo for their WUSTL ID cards during that time, and that new photo will be reflected in University systems, such as Faces. The WUSTL ID card is not a legal form of identification. A student should carry a driver’s license or other legal identification when leaving campus or needing to provide legal identification. For more information about campus ID cards, please visit card.wustl.edu
You will have the opportunity to display a legal name or a preferred name on a diploma using the intent to graduate form. The university considers the diploma to be a ceremonial document, and thus you may enter a familiar or preferred name to be used in lieu of your name of record for this purpose. However, please be advised that in some situations your diploma may need to be used as a legal document, and the name appearing on your diploma may need to match other legal documents you possess. For further information on this, contact your school registrar.
Email address and display name
To use your preferred name in your email address, log into WebSTAC and select the “Contact Information” tab from the left menu. Under the heading “Email,” click the “Change Email” link. The change will be reflected in university communications within one or two business days. Please note: If changed, any emails sent to your previous address will generate a bounce back to the sender and will not be delivered to your mailbox. This will not impact access to your mailbox.
Your email display name is changed automatically when you add a preferred name. Your previous email display name will be replaced with your new email display name within one business day.
University communications sent to hometown newspapers, letters to home, and other forms of external communications may vary based on the protocol of a department, your college, adviser or dean. It is recommended that you connect with anyone writing letters of recommendation for you about the name you want reflected.
To change your WUSTL key, contact the Office of the University Registrar at 314-935-5908 or 314-935-5919. You can also learn more by clicking the link “More Info on changing your WUSTL Key” on your user profile beside the space for entering a preferred first name.
Legal Name & Name of Record
Your name of record must appear on official transcripts, paychecks, payroll records, financial aid documents and official health records.
The process for changing your legal name varies by state and country of residence and reason for the change. The university cannot change a legal name. You must pursue a legal name change with your state of residence and/or federal authorities and then submit a legal name change document (typically a court order) to the Office of the University Registrar. A student employee must also submit an updated I-9 form. Please note that U.S. residents must change their legal name with the Social Security Administration as well.
As you make the decision to use a preferred name, please note that you may be required to disclose your preferred name together with your legal name on future documents including, but not limited to: background checks, professional licensure applications, graduate school/employment applications, and immigration applications.
The Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Students have sponsored this initiative and policy.
For student support services, please contact the following:
- Leadership and LGBTQIA Involvement
- Office for International Students and Scholars
- Center for Diversity and Inclusion
- Liberman Graduate Center
For technical questions about the policy and procedure, please contact the Office of the University Registrar at 314-935-5959.
Washington University in St. Louis will display preferred names to the university community where feasible and appropriate, and it will make a good faith effort to update the reports, documents and systems designated to use preferred names. Inappropriate use of the preferred name policy (including but not limited to avoiding legal obligation or misrepresentation) may be cause for denying use of preferred names. Washington University reserves the right to remove any preferred name that is deemed inappropriate.
Washington University encourages and gives full consideration to all applicants for admission, financial aid and employment. The university does not discriminate in access to, or treatment or employment in, its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, veteran status, disability or genetic information. Inquiries about compliance should be addressed to the university’s vice chancellor for human resources, Washington University, Campus Box 1184, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130.
To report any incidents of bias and for more information about bias-related policies at Washington University, please visit the Bias Report and Support System.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I set my preferred name to whatever I want?
Students have the right to choose a name, but Washington University reserves the right to remove any preferred name that is deemed inappropriate.
Where and how will my preferred name display?
There are two ways in which your preferred name will display: either as the preferred name alone or a preferred name along with your name of record.
Examples of where only your preferred name will display include Canvas, CAREERlink, class rosters, Faces, grade reports, housing rosters, online campus directory, WUGO and university publications.
Examples of where your preferred name will display alongside your legal name or name of record include advising records, Cornerstone records, judicial records, Student Health Services records, WebSTAC, Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and University Police records.
Additionally, there are areas where your legal name or name of record will display alone. While most of these areas are housed internally in the university, your legal name or name of record will display on paychecks, financial records and documents, visa and immigration documents, NCAA reports, and official transcripts.
You also have the option to change your email address, WUSTL key, and diploma to reflect your preferred name. These options take action on your part.
What is the difference between my name of record and legal name?
For many students, these two values are the same. Your legal name is the name legally given to you and documented on your birth certificate, passport, visa or immigration documents, court order, or certificate of naturalization. Your name of record directly refers to the name you reported on the Common Application when applying to the university. It may be the same as your legal name. Your name of record is the official name that Washington University connects to your preferred name.
Who will have access to my name of record or legal name?
Some departments are required to use your legal name due to regulatory restrictions and/or third party involvement, including Student Financial Services, Account Services for student employee payment and Information Services and Technology. The primary student systems, communications and reporting for these departments will continue to use and display your legal name.
Most departments that have access to your name of record will also see your preferred name. These departments and entities include: Campus Police, Four-Year Advisors, Office of International Students and Scholars, Overseas Office, Athletics, department administrators, registrars, Judicial Affairs, Cornerstone, Student Health Services and anyone accessing your official transcript.
How do I change my legal name on my legal identifications and records?
The process for changing your legal name varies by state and country of residence and reason for the change. The university cannot change your legal name.
For more information about changing your legal name in Missouri, please visit courts.mo.gov, the Your Missouri Courts website, or this helpful resource: http://www.wikihow.com/Change-Your-Name-in-Missouri.
U.S. residents must change their names with the Social Security Administration as well. International students should contact their home country embassy or consulate for more information about the process of changing a legal name.
How do I change or correct my name of record or legal name at the university?
If your name appears incorrectly or if you have pursued a legal name change at the state or federal level, please bring legal documentation to the Office of the University Registrar so that the university can update your record. In addition, student employees must submit an updated I-9 form.
Are there any resources available for helping people pronounce my name?
Washington University is committed to students feeling safe and supported on our campus. It is important that, as a community, we learn to pronounce everyone’s name. When logged into WebSTAC, you can enter the pronunciation for your name in your User Profile, and this information will be displayed on class rosters and advising records, among other places. You also will be prompted for the pronunciation of your name at Commencement when you fill out your Intent to Graduate form. For more pronunciation resources, please visit: http://hearnames.com/ and http://www.cpp.edu/~pronunciation/.
How do I change my email address to reflect my preferred name?
After logging into WebSTAC, select the “Contact Information” tab from the left menu. Under the heading “Email,” click the “Change Email” link.
If I change my email address, will I still be able to access my old account?
You will not lose access to your email from your previous address, but any emails to the old address will not forward. You are encouraged to distribute your new email address to your contacts list.
How do I change my WUSTL Key to reflect my preferred name?
You can contact the Office of University Registrar at 314-935-5908 or 314-935-5919. You can also learn more by clicking the link “More Info on changing your WUSTL Key” on your User Profile beside the space for entering a preferred first name.
How will my name be reflected in the Campus Directory? What if I’m a student and an employee of the university?
If your primary role at Washington University is “student,” regardless of whether or not you work on campus, you will have your preferred name reflected in the campus directory. At this time, someone whose primary role is “staff” who takes classes will not have a preferred name reflected.
How do I revoke my preferred name or information from the campus directory?
Your name will be disclosed as “directory information” unless you opt not to permit such disclosure. To revoke the university’s disclosure of directory information, you have the option of requesting privacy through WebSTAC. For more information, see the FERPA & Privacy page.
How do I reflect my preferred or legal name on my diploma?
You are required to file an Intent to Graduate form on WebSTAC prior to the semester in which you intend to graduate. You may list a preferred or legal name to be printed on your diploma. Please be advised that in some situations, the name appearing on your diploma may need to match other legal documents you possess.
How does using a preferred name specifically affect me if I’m an international student?
As of November 15, 2016 if you are a student on an F-1 or J-1 visa who chooses to use a preferred name at Washington University, your preferred name will be included in your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) recod. Your SEVIS record will also continue to include your legal name as indicated on your passport. If you are on an F-1 visa, your I-20 will list both your preferred and legal names. In all immigration and visa applications, you must disclose your preferred name if you have used it officially at Washington University.