Students and employees at the University of Minnesota will soon be able to add a gender identity and preferred pronouns to their records on MyU.
PeopleSoft — the University’s human records database — will add the new functions in June, among other changes in a planned upgrade.
The new tools are in response to students, faculty and staff working toward a more inclusive climate for people of varying gender identities, said Julie Selander, director of One Stop Student Services and leader of the project.
Selander said she and her team surveyed students, met with on-campus organizations and spoke at forums to understand what was needed in the coming upgrade. She added that responses to the project have been “overwhelmingly” positive.
She said the upgrade will include open-ended text boxes that will allow people to type in their own gender identity if it is not already available to choose.
The team did not want to limit students’ options since the concept of gender identity is constantly evolving, Selander said.
Ahmad Qais Munhazim, the interim director of the Gender and Sexuality Center for Queer and Trans Life, said he has seen many cases of students being repeatedly misgendered across campus, which shows signs of transphobia and can be emotionally triggering for them.
Munhazim said the database change is needed, as students learn about inclusivity and issues like transphobia in their classes.
“This upgrade is a great move towards making the campus more inclusive and respectful of all identities,” he said. “It’s a move that celebrates inclusivity and diversity.”
Munhazim said he hopes to see the upgrade inspire other universities to do the same for their students, faculty and staff.
With the upgrade, students’ indicated pronouns will be shared with their instructors on class rosters and seen by their academic advisers.
Jasper Craft, a sophomore pursuing a Bachelor of Individualized Studies, said he uses pronouns that differ from the gender that appears on his University records.
Craft said he expects the upgrade to help communication with professors.
“At the beginning of this semester, I emailed all of my professors to let them know of my pronouns ahead of time so I didn’t have to have that awkward moment on the first day of class,” he said. “I like that they’re going to be listed on the rosters. I think that’ll help people who get misgendered a lot.”