Skip to main content

The University adopted a Name Usage Policy in May 2021 to govern how our JCU community members can designate their preferred name and personal pronouns for use across our University systems. Below are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about our adopted policy and its implementation processes. 

A preferred name is a first name (i.e., given name) that may be chosen to be used instead of a legal first name. JCU community members (students, faculty, and staff) may opt to go by a preferred name that is different from their legal first name. No documentation of a name change is required for selecting a preferred name. 

Please note: The Name Usage Policy governs the use of preferred names and pronouns within our systems. A request to change legal name or legal sex in the University Administrative System must be made in person at the appropriate office. (For students, this would be the Office of the Registrar; faculty/staff should consult with Human Resources

Yes, the Name Usage Policy now allows (but does not require) students, faculty and staff to indicate what pronouns they use. For the moment, the pronoun options available in Banner are he/him/his, she/her/hers, and they/them/theirs. 

If your pronouns are not included in this list, you may submit a request to diversity@jcu.edu to have your pronouns considered for future updates to the selections available in Banner.

Our ITS systems have been configured to send preferred name to all systems as the first name unless the system requires a legal first name as listed in the policy.

Places using preferred name will include the following: 

  • Student Profile
  • Carroll Cards
  • Employee business cards
  • Online Directory (unless students have chosen a FERPA exclusion)
  • Official Email Display Name
  • Directory information
  • Class and Grade Rosters
  • Handshake
  • Canvas
  • Reports and/or lists generated for academic purposes
  • Press Releases (i.e., Dean’s List)
  • Social Media Sites

Places using legal name will include the following: 

  • Applications for Admission
  • Student Account Statement (Bills)
  • Financial Aid, Scholarship and Loan Documents
  • Transcripts (Official and unofficial)
  • Enrollment Verifications
  • Degree Verifications
  • Legal Documents and Reports Produced by the University
  • Degree Evaluation
  • Student Employment Documents
  • Employment Verifications
  • Employment Documents
  • Paychecks, W2s, and other Payroll documents
  • Benefits Enrollment
  • IRS, SSA, and other state and federal reporting requirements

If students do not wish JCU to share your legal name with external organizations you have the option of requesting FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) directory exclusion, which revokes the University's right to share any of your information with any outside source. This request must be submitted in writing to the Registrar. See more information about FERPA here. 

It is important to know that choosing to request FERPA exclusion means that you will not be listed in the directory and the University cannot confirm your student status (e.g., for the purposes of credit card and insurance verifications, etc.).

 

No. Using a preferred name and designating pronouns is entirely optional.

Designated pronouns will appear on class rosters in Canvas. 

We will be adding pronouns to other university systems/reports over the course of time. If you’d like to see pronouns added to a specific place in our systems, please use the submission form below to let us know. 
 

Preferred name and pronouns can be set in your user profile on Banner.  For employees, the link to edit the user profile appears on the employee dashboard.  Students must select the link from the menu on the top left of the student dashboard. 

If you have trouble locating or using the Banner dashboard, please contact the ITS Service Desk at (216) 397-3005.  

Preferred name requests will generally take 48-72 business hours to appear.

You may select any name as your preferred first name. Banner does not support the addition of a preferred middle name at this time. Last names are considered legal names and can only be changed with appropriate legal documentation. 

Anyone may designate a preferred name that they want to be known by in university systems.

The University reserves the right to deny or revoke a preferred name if it contains inappropriate or offensive language, or is being used for misrepresentation. Policy violations in this area may be subject to consequences. Please see the full policy for further details. 

As stipulated in the Name Usage Policy, legal names will continue to be used for campus network ID (username) and official email address (other than an email alias).  However, a one-time request for an email alias using the preferred name will be granted. Subsequent changes will be  evaluated on a case-by-case basis. An email alias does not change the actual email address but allows the email address based on preferred name to work.

To submit a request for a new email alias based on preferred name, please contact the ITS Service Desk

As soon as your preferred name request has been processed, please visit the Carroll Card Office (located in the basement of the Admin building).

There will be no fee to update a Carroll Card with the preferred name for the first change. Any subsequent changes will result in an applicable fee.

If you are looking at a university-generated list, like a class roster, you should be seeing people's preferred names in the "first name" category (our ITS systems have been configured to send preferred name to all systems as the first name unless that system requires a legal first name). In Canvas, the "People" tab is where this information should be appearing. 

Some systems (such as Canvas) are now set to indicate a person's pronouns in the space immediately following their name, if they have specified their pronouns in Banner. This feature is still being added to other university systems. (Please use the contact form below to let us know if you are aware of a particular system that still needs a 'pronouns' category.) 

As this policy is still new at JCU, some students/employees who use a preferred name may NOT have added this information to Banner yet. If a person has already specifically asked you to use a preferred name/pronoun, but that specific name/pronoun is NOT showing up in Canvas or other list, you should defer to the name/pronoun that the person has previously asked you to use, or ask the person directly if you are not sure. Please encourage them to add this information to Banner, to make it easier for others to call them consistently by the right name and pronouns. 

As this is a new university procedure, it may take some time for university personnel and systems to become consistent in their adoption of user-defined gender pronouns and preferred names. If an error is made, please advise the office or person of the error so that they can address it (either directly or in writing for documentation). If a person or office has been advised of their error and the error persists, the DEI Division office at diversity@jcu.edu can be contacted for additional support.

Pronouns are a simple linguistic tool we use to refer to others whenever we are not using their names. For example: “Taylor emailed his teacher” or “Bryce opened her door.” 

In English, we frequently use “they/them” as a neutral singular pronoun when referring to a person whose pronouns are unknown. For example, “Someone left their book here,” or “The caller hung up; I don’t know what they wanted,” or “I have a person named Taylor on my list. Can someone find them?” 

Some people use neutral they/them pronouns all the time instead of gendered pronouns, or they use different pronouns (see below for some other examples). Some also ask not to be referred to by any pronouns at all. In this case, use the person’s name instead: “Taylor emailed Taylor’s teacher.”

The most commonly used pronouns in English are the gender-specific she/her/hers and he/him/his and the gender-neutral they/them/theirs. The JCU systems currently allow a person to specify any one of these three options if that person desires to do so. 

There are a number of less-common alternative pronouns in use as well, such as ey/em/eirs or ze/hir/hirs. If a person prefers to be referred to using these pronouns or others, they may let you know (although they will not be indicated as such in our current systems until/unless future updates make this possible). 

Pronouns in English are most often drawn from assumptions based on a person’s gender expression (for example, a person’s name, clothes, hairstyle, behavior, voice, and/or body characteristics). In many cases, these gender cues are obvious and our assumptions are correct, but for many people, the signals might give mixed or incomplete information to an observer, leading us to make assumptions that might be wrong, causing embarrassment or offense to either or both parties.  

Whenever we do not have sufficient information to select the correct gender pronoun (for example, when interacting with someone over email who has a gender-neutral name, or when meeting a person whose external gender presentation is ambiguous), we can get it wrong without intending to do so. Asking people to specify their pronouns in advance takes the guesswork out of the process of selecting the correct pronoun to use. 

Using a person’s correct pronouns consistently when requested to do so is a way of demonstrating respect for that person. 

The good news is, you are likely already using pronouns correctly most of the time. However, you may not be doing so consciously, so the important thing is to become conscious of it and to invite others to be conscious as well. 

The easiest way to learn a person’s pronouns is simply to invite them to share them by modeling it yourself. This is far less awkward if you start the process on your end: “Hi, I’m Dr. Jones, and I use he/him/his pronouns. And you are?” In groups, inviting (though not requiring) others to share their pronouns is a simple way to get the information you need to avoid assumptions. 

For those of us who have grown up without a conscious awareness around how we use pronouns in our language, this can take some time to learn, and we can make mistakes. We learn best by being forgiving of ourselves and others. 

If you speak English, you already use pronouns to refer to people, because they are a normal part of our language. If you haven’t asked a person about their pronouns, you are almost certainly relying upon your own assumptions about that person’s gender to decide how to refer to them. But this is a problem, because we can all think of times when our assumptions about a person’s gender are -- or could be -- wrong. These assumptions have the potential to hurt or embarrass someone without intending to do so. 

Learning and using another person’s correct pronouns is a way to prevent pain and embarrassment for everyone, while demonstrating respect and care for the individual’s dignity and personhood -- the cura personalis that JCU’s Jesuit Catholic mission requires.

As stated in the Name Usage Policy, the University is committed to the belief that respect for the rights and dignity of all people must be protected. This goal is an integral part of all aspects of University life, rooted in our Jesuit Catholic identity, and is essential to our academic community.  

When we listen to what a person tells us about how they would like us to refer to them, we communicate to that person that they are safe and that they belong. We demonstrate respect for their life experience and we honor their dignity and personhood. And we communicate that they are an essential part of John Carroll’s community and mission just as they are.

Current Catholic Social Teaching on the question of gender and sex is indeed that “biological sex (sex) and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated.” (Bishops’ 2015 Synod on the Family, #58). As a Catholic institution welcoming people of “all faiths and no faith,” JCU holds a firm commitment to the freedom of the individual conscience. We recognize that members of our University community will hold a wide variety of perspectives on this point of Catholic doctrine. 

Some take this teaching to mean that Catholics are not permitted to use gender pronouns for other people unless those pronouns correspond precisely to that person’s biological sex assigned at birth. However, we invite those who hold this perspective to consider the following. 

First, an individual’s assent to the teaching of the Church on this matter does not preclude treating others with respect. Even Pope Francis models respect for others by deliberately using the pronouns that transgender individuals identify for themselves (as in, for example, this 2016 interview). 

Next, in order to consistently use sex-assigned-at-birth as the sole measure for selecting the gender pronouns to use for another person (rather than using the pronouns they themselves identify), in some cases this requires making assumptions -- or worse, asking invasive questions -- about a person’s sexual anatomy and private history. Such assumptions (and inappropriate questions) can cause unneeded embarrassment and pain and violate the other person’s dignity and privacy. 

When a person is consistently subjected to such violations, this creates conditions of unjust discrimination which clearly violates Catholic Social Teaching. “Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God's design.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1935.) 

Lastly, Catholic Social Teaching on the protection of human life causes us to consider with alarm the physical danger created by conditions of discrimination. A 2015 study conducted by the Williams Law Institute found that among transgender adults who had experienced four or more instances of discrimination in the the course of a year, 98% had considered -- and 51% had attempted -- suicide. In addition, when discrimination becomes a norm, this also generates conditions of physical danger from others: according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, people who are transgender or gender non-conforming experience much higher rates of hate-based violence than their cisgender counterparts.

There may be many matters in the realm of gender and sexuality on which reasonable people may disagree, based on their faith commitments, but here at JCU, rejecting discrimination, protecting the lives of all human beings, and demonstrating consistent respect for the dignity and full personhood of others is a non-negotiable community standard. 

“Something of the glory of God shines on the face of every person, the dignity of every person before God is the basis of the dignity of [the human being] before other [human beings]. Moreover, this is the ultimate foundation of the radical equality and [kinship] among all people, regardless of their race, nation, sex, origin, culture, or class.” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Sec. 144)

Do you have another question that is not listed here? Complete the form below to submit your question to be answered on this page.