Deadnaming Emails Resolved

Ellie Burns


Vol. 6

#Giving2UCDay is normally about collaboration, care, and inspiration throughout campus. However, this was not the case for many transgender and nonbinary students when the #Giving2UCDay update email was sent out addressed with each student’s name, addressing students as their “nicknames” while deadnaming many.

 Despite having their chosen names set in Self-Service, Outlook, and Canvas, many students were sent emails with their deadnames as the address while other students who had selected a nickname as their preferred name received the email, such as changing “Nick” to “Nicholas.” Upon hearing the concerns this issue brought up about the school’s attention to names and their students, Danielle Santana Denrich ’24, current president of GSA, reached out to President Robyn Hannigan as well as Heidi Jensen and Molly Robins of Alumni Engagement. Jensen and Robins were quick to fix the issue, apologizing profusely for the error both via email and in person at Tea Time on February 12th. 

Just as things seemed solved, however, there was another mass incident of deadnaming among the freshmen in regards to an email congratulating them on their first semester. Upon further investigation into the issue, it was discovered that the automated systems that Ursinus uses for store student names were not updated properly. As a result, when President Hannigan pulled from the slate system it was giving her out-of-date data on student names. As President Hannigan stated in a follow-up email to Danielle, this should not have happened due to the fact that the slate system should have the most up-to-date system of all the automated email and name storage on campus. 

She wasted no time in contacting IT immediately to figure out where the information breakdown is and work to remedy the issue as soon as possible. As soon as the issue was brought to light, all three administrators got to work making sure all systems were updated with preferred names of students as well as any other updates that needed to be made. It turned out that in order to find a student’s chosen name in the database, you had to run a specific query asking for the student’s chosen name as it did not replace their legal name in the database originally. 

Noting that this was a bizarre and overall harmful way to run things, President Hannigan met with leadership to discuss changing the entire system so that students would no longer run the risk of being deadnamed in official emails as a student’s preferred name will take the place of their legal name. 

Additionally, President Hannigan discussed an issue with self-service that did not allow staff or students to select multiple pronouns or write down neopronouns if necessary. She assured those at the meeting that this issue would be looked into and dealt with as soon as possible. 

When asked for comments on the aftermath, Danielle said “I am very happy with how the college handled everything…it shows that they’re actually listening to students for once, because when this was brought to my attention it had been ongoing for years. I’m also very excited that President Hannigan took the time to listen to our concerns outside of just the deadnaming incident too and is willing to investigate them.”