Dartmouth College is set to become a pioneer in recognizing the needs of nonbinary and transitioning students.
At the start of Dartmouth’s fall term on September 16, students at the Hanover, N.H. campus will be able to indicate their preferred name, gender and pronouns on all school-issued documents.
According to the school website, the Ivy League university “recognizes that some students wish to identify themselves by a name other than their Legal Name.” The college adds, “Dartmouth will enable students to use a ‘Chosen Name’ where possible in the course of their Dartmouth education. They may also indicate their gender identity and pronoun.”
Dartmouth has allowed trans and non-binary students to ask for changes to their documentation since 2007. But now that process has become self-serve, with a simple set of options in the registration portal.
"I have learned over the years what it means for some students to be able to choose their name. It can have a big impact. So it means a lot to me that we can do this," registrar Meredith Braz told the New York Daily News. “Students have been asking for this for a while, sometimes even before they matriculate. It’s the right thing to do.”
Known as the Chosen Name and Identity initiative, the program will affect transcripts, diplomas, and commencement programs.
The program comes amidst some recent hits to Dartmouth’s reputation. The school was dragged into the headlines recently after Donald Trump nominated aide Steven Menashi to become a federal judge. Menashi attended Dartmouth and was notorious for writing anti-gay op-eds in the student paper.
What’s more, former students came forward last year to disclose how Dartmouth alum Laura Ingraham — now a right-wing talking head on FOX News — would harass LGBTQ+ students when she attended the school. Ingraham sent a student to secretly record meetings of queer student support groups, publishing names of meeting leaders and transcripts.
Regarding the new policy, Provost Joseph Helble said in a statement, "As a community, Dartmouth recognizes that it is important for students to be known by the names they choose. The College now has the infrastructure to make it easy for students to make their chosen names known.”
Dartmouth joins several other New Hampshire colleges, including UNH and Keene State, in allowing students to indicate their chosen name.
Not all ivy-league schools are as accommodating. Harvard requires a legal name change and extensive paperwork. Princeton allows students to select their gender in an online registration system. Yale allows students to specify their gender online, but provides only three options: M, F, and N. Brown University only allows students to identify as male or female.