Policies banning trans students from listing preferred names on Splash Cards are justified

Hannah Orr, Contributing Reporter

The following is an opinion article and opinion articles do not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

Transgender students at Tulane have requested to list their preferred names on their Splash Cards. Not much, however, can be done to amend Tulane’s current policies on the matter. 

People have blamed card services for enforcing these policies, but Director of Card Services Doug Olson said the Splash Card office isn’t involved until the tail end of Tulane’s bureaucratic process. Since the Splash Card serves as an official form of identification, the student’s legal name must be printed on the card. 

Tulane students who wish to change their listed names must submit a copy of a legal document, such as a state-issued identification card or a court document with the desired name, to the Office of the Registrar before they can change their Splash Cards. 

This policy applies to all students, not just transgender students, who want to change the name on their Splash Card. Olson said students who go by their middle names or who have gotten married while at Tulane have requested name changes, as well.

Even though these reasons may be valid, the crux of the matter remains the same: unless the student’s name is legally changed, Card Services cannot change the name printed on their splash card. If the office made an exception for trans students, it would have to address every other student’s reasons equally, valid or not. Thus, for right now at least, the policy must be upheld for both logistical and practical reasons. 

As our culture learns to accept and understand transgender people, all institutions, including major universities must find ways to support and foster acceptance of students in transition. While it does help for professors to address trans students by their preferred names, it will take more time and effort to implement bureaucratic change. 

Institutions such as Vanderbilt University and the University of Washington allow students to include only their first and middle initials with their last name on their student identification cards. Providing this option, or allowing students to list their preferred names on class rosters, could help protect the privacy of the trans student and help avoid the complication of explaining their preferred name to every professor.

While this Splash Card policy is a roadblock for trans students on campus, Tulane faces logistical and legal obstacles most students don’t consider. Tulane’s peer institutions also prohibit changing students’ identification cards without legal backing, as well. Ultimately, this policy is not an attempt to discriminate against transgender students.

Hannah Orr is a freshman in the Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached at [email protected]

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