After being tabled by the Undergraduate Assembly last week, the Preferred Name Initiative will be resubmitted in the next semester.
The initiative that would enable transgender and international students to change their name on non-legal documents and class rosters at Penn was brought by Lambda Alliance chair and College sophomore Dawn Androphy to the Undergraduate Assembly a few weeks ago.
However, the resolution was tabled at the meeting after an amendment was added to it.
College junior and UA Technology Director Nikolai Zapertov was the author of the amendment. He was concerned that the resolution did not take students’ financial situations into consideration.
Zapertov said, due to the costs of obtaining new documents such as a PennCard, he wanted “to ensure … that nobody should be unable to have their preferred name due to financial hardship.”
He further explained that many UA members were confused about how the internal process behind the resolution would work and whether it would cost anything for students.
The initiative focuses on making the process of changing one’s name easier and more accessible for students.
“Changing your name legally is a really extensive process,” Androphy said. “There is a way to do it but it’s not accessible to transgender students who aren’t in the know or international students who don’t know about it at all.”
Androphy is currently in the process of rewriting the resolution to be brought back to the UA in January. She has been working with the Assembly of International Students to add to the resolution and is also working closely with College and Wharton junior and UA Vice President Abe Sutton to ensure that the resolution is ready for the body next time.
“We will not be incorporating the amendment however we will be incorporating the ideas of the amendment,” Androphy said. “A lot of interesting discussion happened at the meeting and we’re incorporating clauses and sentences about the financial issue in the background of the resolution to show people it’s something we’re going to address.”
Sutton explained the reasoning behind tabling the amendment.
“Generally before an amendment is brought we lay groundwork with administrators and see if there are issues they should be aware of,” Sutton said. “We did groundwork for the clauses in place but no groundwork for the clauses offered by Nikolai’s amendment.”
Sutton added that they will continue to work on the resolution next semester.
According to Androphy the timing is right because the University is currently working to overhaul all of its current databases and update how information about students is organized to be more efficient.
“It’s a perfect opportunity for us because we can tell them what we want incorporated into the new system,” Androphy said. “We want to work with the administration to incorporate this preferred name option and make it more convenient to use.”
Sutton said that the UA is receptive to the idea behind the resolution and that they are likely to support it.
Androphy expressed similar sentiments.
“We’re going to bring it back to the UA so that they’re happy with it and we’re comfortable with it – we just want to collaborate and make sure that everyone is happy with this resolution and it gets passed,” Androphy said. “We all believe in the ultimate idea of it.”
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