An inclusive university

UU students and staff must be able to indicate their pronouns and register as 'X'

Registratie. Foto: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

This is the advice issued by the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Office (EDI), after being commissioned by the Executive Board to conduct a study on how the university could make its sex registration system and use of pronouns more inclusive.

EDI discovered that students and employees of Utrecht University, many of whom are queer, non-binary or transgender, find the university's current registration system problematic. Users can alter their first names when registering for Studielink but not on Osiris, for example.

UU students and staff can't indicate the pronouns by which they prefer to be addressed either, and this lack of clarity can be quite stressful at times – at the start of a course, for instance. This way, students are forced to indicate their pronouns again and again.

For this reason, some members of the UU community experience the sex registration system as hostile and unsafe, writes EDI in a report (available only to those with a Solis ID, Ed.). "Part of the university community does not feel recognised and indicates that they are suffering (severe) psychological consequences as a result."

According to EDI, UU students and staff should be able to alter their name and gender in the university's registration system. In addition to "male" and "female", the option "X" should be available to users. 

Systems like Osiris and Teams should also allow users to indicate by which name they wish to be addressed. Lecturers should prepare an attendance list featuring those names before the semester begins. 

Moreover, EDI advises the university to reduce its registration to the "bare minimum", only asking for people's gender when absolutely necessary, such as when that is required by law.

“This is a sensitive topic and there is a risk of resistance," writes EDI in its report. "The alternative is not following this advice and possibly losing students and staff members because they don't feel at home at UU."

The university is currently investigating how EDI's advice could be implemented and how long that would take. An implementation plan is expected early next year.