On Sunday night, the Undergraduate Assembly focused its attention on the status of several smaller groups at Penn, including transgender, international and transfer students.
One of the primary focuses of the UA’s general body meeting was a discussion about an initiative by the Lambda Alliance, Penn’s umbrella organization for LGBT student groups on campus.
College sophomore and Vice–Chair of Outreach for Lambda Dawn Androphy explained that a serious problem transgender students face is changing their names to reflect their preferred gender.
“Getting a legal name change can cost hundreds of dollars and is difficult to do,” Androphy said. “They present as their own gender but they have their old name on their PennCard and class rosters — this doesn’t give them power over disclosing their identity.”
The Lambda Alliance representatives expressed their desire to partner with the UA in creating a preferred name option for transgender students. This would enable students to choose which name they want to appear on their class rosters or PennCard without affecting any legal documents, according to Androphy.
“It’s a serious privacy matter,” Androphy said. “Transgender students are having issues with their names, which seems like something basic to the rest of us but presents a real problem.”
The “preferred name” initiative would also include international students who do not want to legally change their name but oftentimes choose a more Anglicized name when they come to the United States.
In addition to the preferred name initiative, the UA discussed transfer student representation in student government. College junior and UA Technology Director Nikolai Zapertov suggested the idea of creating an additional seat on student government specifically for transfer students. Other UA members were hesitant to support this.
“There are two transfer students already on the UA, which shows that is it possible for them to run and possible for them to win in fall elections,” College senior and UA Speaker Pro Tempore Jon Monfred said.
The general sentiment was that transfer students, although following a different path and having a different experience than that of freshmen, should not be automatically given a seat on student government.
“The way their voices don’t have specific seats here can be translated to UA Steering — they all have a voice in Steering and can express their comments and concerns there,” College senior and UA Treasurer Jake Shuster said.
Because of Thanksgiving, the next UA meeting will not take place until Dec. 2.