Pomona Students Can Change Gender Pronouns After Student Portal Update

On Monday morning, an update to the Pomona College online student portal added a new feature called “Help Faculty learn your Pronoun,” allowing students to submit or change their preferred gender pronouns in the student directory and other student records maintained by the Registrar.

Besides the binary gender pronouns (He, Him, His, Himself and She, Her, Hers, Herself), the new feature includes the following gender pronouns in a drop-down list for students to submit to the Registrar: “E/Ey, Em, Eir/Eirs, Eirself/Emse,” “Hu, Hum, Hus, Humself,” “Per, Per, Per/Pers, Perself,” “Ze, Hir, Hir/Hirs, Hirself,” and “Ze, Zir, Zir/Zirs, Zirself.”

After submitting a gender pronoun change, students’ preferred pronouns will appear with their names in the student directory, faculty class lists, and the advisee rosters of faculty advisors. According to the online instructions for the new feature, “a Pronoun, is simply what an individual would like others to use when talking to or about that individual. Submitting your pronoun will help Faculty in learning your pronoun and support the proper use when talking to or about you.”

The new interface for changing gender pronouns on the Pomona College student portal. (Click for larger version)

In a message to the Independent, Pomona College’s Information Technology Services (ITS), which maintains and updates the student portal, stated that it was informed of the decision to implement the update in the fall semester of the school year by “students through ASPC [The Associated Students of Pomona College], Student Affairs and the Queer Resource Center (QRC),” “after a discussion with the office of Student Affairs and ASPC.”

For its part, the ASPC hinted at the changes to the student portal last fall, when student government officials circulated a survey evaluating the need “for modifications to the Portal that would allow students to change their pronouns and/or name.”

Representatives from ASPC—the College’s student government—gave the Independent the following statement concerning the student portal changes:

“ASPC worked closely with the Office of the Registrar, the Dean of Students Office, and the Queer Resource Center (QRC) to develop a more efficient and user-friendly system for students wishing to change their gender pronouns and/or chosen name. ASPC and the relevant administrators independently identified the need for a Portal feature to facilitate these changes, and ASPC was asked to assist in the creation of the new feature to ensure that student voices were present in the conversation. Supporting transgender and non-binary students is of utmost importance to ASPC, and we sought their input throughout this process with the assistance of the QRC. We are allied with all marginalized communities and strive to be cognizant of their needs as we advocate for the student body in collaboration with the administration.”

In particular, “the current Student Information System (SIS) makes it difficult to synchronize name and pronoun changes seamlessly in all relevant locations.” In transitioning to a new SIS, the registrar’s office and ITS, with the full support of the ASPC, has declared that having “a mechanism that allows for global implementation of name and pronoun changes” is “non-negotiable,” as the new SIS must be “more conducive to supporting the transgender and non-binary community.”

In a follow-up email to the Independent, ASPC added that “some faculty, including members of the relevant faculty committee, the Student Affairs Committee, were consulted during the process.”

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