Charles University students ask school to include additional gender options in registration system

The students are proposing new changes to the Study Information System (SIS), which serves students and academic staff at the university

Samantha Tatro

Written by Samantha Tatro
Published on 20.10.2020 16:00 (updated on 20.10.2020)

Students at Charles University are asking the institution to make several small changes to their Study Information System (SIS) to create a more inclusive environment, according to a report in iDnes.

The petition asks the university to include a third option under gender: neutral. In addition, students are asking the school to allow students to select preferred pronouns as well as a display name.

If students entered their own display name, they would be able to opt for a name other than their legal name on their ID cards or student cards. The legal gender of the student would remain private as well, under the proposition.

The new changes would be optional for students, according to the petition. But with these changes, teachers and other school officials would also be able to see exactly how students would like to be addressed, and with what pronouns.

The changes would benefit students who use a name that is different from their ID card. It would also benefit someone going through a divorce, who may not want to be associated with their partner. It would give teachers more clarity on correct pronouns and names for foreign students as well.

Under the way the SIS works now at Charles University, students must input their legal gender and do not have an option to add a different or preferred name. Students who prefer to go by a different name of pronoun have to explain their preferred pronouns and their preferred names if they do not match their official ID cards or the name in the system.

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"We are of the opinion that the gender column should remain [private], if its presence is necessary at all. In combination with our proposed field of preferred address, for example, I would not feel safe if anyone from my profile could recognize at first sight that I am a trans," the co-author of the petition told iDnes.

Teachers have noticed a need for a change, too, especially in the era of online teaching. Professors may address their students by the wrong name, or get confused when they see someone logging onto their virtual lecture with a different name.

"The first displayed names are usually the ones I address students with - it is very difficult to focus on students' preferences under already difficult conditions," one professor told iDnes.

The university has not received any official requests from students, according to a spokesman for the university, but they will consider the topic for discussion.

“If they are relevant and for the benefit of things, we will take them seriously," Václav Hájek, a spokesman for the university, said.

The proposed changes would not affect most students, the petition says, but instead help a small minority feel included.

"We believe that it can contribute to making everyone at Charles University and all of us a little more welcome and welcome," the petition concludes.