Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion


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Identity, affirmation, and belonging


We must continue to work towards implementing practices that honor students’ preferred names across campus offices and modes of communication.

Mary Ann Villarreal  •  June 30, 2021

As Pride Month comes to an end, I want to take a moment to reflect on the University of Utah’s recent important change in our chosen name processes, signifying our collective commitment to recognizing and affirming diverse student identities. The chosen name change and the option to self-identify your gender and sexual orientation are important movements towards living up to our mission to foster student successes in their academic and personal pursuits at the university and beyond.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion will continue to work with others across campus to adjust these practices to affirm and validate students with diverse gender and sexual identities and therefore validate and affirm all students. More work needs to be done – and we all have a part in our ongoing efforts to remove systemic barriers to safety and belonging to help our students thrive.

We must continue to ask ourselves, how will we honor the LGBTQIA+ communities in our everyday work? And how will we, as a growing and diversifying campus, tend to the work ahead and demonstrate the U’s ongoing commitment to elevate our communities that contribute to our excellence?

Here are a few thoughts.

We have to recognize that asking students to list their dead or legal name perpetuates harm and does not live up to our value of an inclusive and affirming community. We fall short when our queer, trans, or non-binary students only see pockets of affirming spaces for them on campus. We must continue to build towards the inclusion and affirmation of our students across the university; foster an environment where students, faculty, trainees, and staff who choose to share who they are can be affirmed, cared for, and feel safe to show up as their authentic selves. Doing so will guide us away from a heteronormative assumption of all of our experiences and into a direction of validation, affirmation, and belonging – because inclusion and affirmation show up both in policy and in the interpersonal.

I know that we must continue to work towards implementing practices that honor students’ preferred names across campus offices and modes of communication.

And we will.

As Pride Month ends, here’s to celebrating and being you, all year long – on a campus and in a community where you will be seen and where you belong.

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