You are here

Preferred Name Policy


Policy on Preferred First Names                                                                                  Effective August 1, 2016

Otis College of Art and Design is committed to fostering an inclusive campus that values self-expression and respect for the variety of communities it serves. The College recognizes that many students, faculty and staff choose to use a preferred first name rather than a legal name whenever a legal name is not absolutely necessary, limited by technology, or required by law. At Otis College, students may request a preferred first name by submitting a Preferred First Name Request Form; faculty and staff may request use of a preferred first name by contacting Human Resources.  Otis College reserves the right to remove or deny the preferred first name if used inappropriately. This includes, but is not limited to, names using foul or inappropriate language, names submitted to avoid a legal obligation, and names used to create misrepresentation.  Each individual may request one preferred first name change during each twelve month period.  

In addition, some students, faculty and staff may choose to use a preferred pronoun (see Preferred Pronoun Policy).



This guide offers instructions and information to those who wish to designate a preferred name.  It also serves as an educational resource for the entire community so that we can continue to be an inclusive and sensitive campus.

What is a preferred name? 

A preferred first name is a chosen first name that is different than a legal first name. Examples of communities that often use preferred names include international students who wish to use an Anglican or American name. Transgender and genderqueer students may wish to use a name that better represents their gender identity.


How do I designate my preferred name at Otis College?

Students may request a preferred first name by submitting a Preferred First Name Request Form.

Preferred First Name Request Form for students

Faculty and staff who have not already indicated a preferred name can do so by contacting Human Resources.

Must everyone indicate a preferred first name?

No. Using a preferred name is entirely optional.  If your legal first name is the name that you prefer to use, you do not need to do anything at all. 


In which Otis College documents will the preferred name be used?

A preferred name will appear on the following records and documents:

  • Class Rosters

A student’s name will be displayed as Legal Last Name, Preferred Name

  • Otis College Identification/OneCard
  • O-Space (Otis Learning Management System)
  • The Nest
  • Degree Works


  • Otis College assigned email address

Your email address will be the first initial of your legal first name along with your legal last name. The name that appears to recipients of your emails will be your preferred name and legal last name.  For example, William < Andrea > Smiths’ email address will be but the name appearing as the sender will be Andrea Smiths.


While Otis College is committed to expanding its use of preferred first names, here are examples in which a legal first name will currently be used due to technology limitations and/or legal requirements:


  • Academic Records including transcripts (both official and unofficial)
  • Self Service
  • Class Schedules
  • Financial Aid and Scholarship Documents
  • Any legal document produced by the University


Using a preferred name when addressing faculty, staff and students:

When addressing other members of our community (including students, faculty, and staff) please use their preferred names in all oral and written communications, except on documents that require a legal name or when technology limitations make it impossible.

Faculty and staff are asked to refer to each student by their preferred name (as indicated on the class roster and OneCard) at all times, including when taking attendance, grading work, calling on a student in class, talking with the student directly, discussing the student with others, and when sending the student an email.

What if I don’t know someone’s preferred name?

Ask.  Asking shows that you respect another person’s choice.

What if someone uses my legal name when addressing me, but I want them to use my preferred name?

If someone mistakenly addresses you by your legal name, simply remind them that you wish to be addressed by your preferred name.

What if I have legally changed my legal name?

Students who have changed their legal name should contact the Registration Office and be prepared to submit documentation showing proof of a legal name change.  

Faculty and staff should contact Human Resources for more information.