CUNY Admins Integrate Preferred Names in Blackboard

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Starting Friday, CUNY Blackboard will recognize preferred names.

After the change, trans and gender non-conforming students who use a preferred name in CUNY will not be accidentally outed in class.

Professors will see the student’s preferred names in Blackboard instead of their legal names, according to a CUNY-wide statement sent on March 30 to the Kingsman.

“The course roster in Blackboard will be the same as the CUNYfirst roster, eliminating confusion caused by some students having different names listed in the two systems,”  CUNY officials said.

Last semester, three CUNY Staten Island students were outed in class after their professors read aloud rosters from CUNY Blackboard which listed their birth names.

It wasn’t the professor’s mistake, however.

There was a technical oversight in the CUNY systems for preferred names. In late August, faculty at the LGBT Resource Center documented that a Brooklyn College student faced a similar issue.

Blackboard aims to be consistent. If similar names appear after a preferred name change, CUNY will use CUNYfirst EMPL ID’s in Blackboard when reporting grades or verify a student’s identity.

At a CUNY Blackboard meeting on Tuesday, March 7, CUNY Staten Island representatives said they planned to test the preferred name issue and revamp Blackboard by the end of the month.

Despite support from CUNY, the plan wasn’t easy to implement.

According to the Blackboard manager, it was a very time-consuming and complicated project because the company only tests and updates the system on Fridays.

When installing the CUNY-wide solution, Blackboard extracted info from students in the CUNYFirst database.

Last month, The Kingsman reported that ITS Director, Mark Gold reconditioned locally managed portals to read preferred names, creating a safer college environment for LGBT students.

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