With the start of Winter quarter registration on November 12, 2019, students and employees can indicate and update their pronouns and gender identity in the Personal Information section of Web4U. Providing this information is entirely voluntary; no one is required to provide this information. This web page provides information about the collection of pronoun and gender identity information.
Why did Western create the opportunity to indicate pronouns and gender identity?
Providing students and employees the opportunity to indicate their pronouns and gender identity is part of fostering a respectful and inclusive university community. It recognizes that students, staff, and faculty in our Western community hold a diversity of gender identities and use a variety of pronouns, and that each of these individuals is entitled to respect. Respecting people’s gender identities is consistent with Washington State law and University policy, both of which prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. More details are below.
Where will information about pronouns appear? Why is this meaningful?
If a student indicates their pronouns in Web4U, those pronouns will appear next to the student’s name on class lists and photo rosters in Web4U and on printed class lists. People often make assumptions about the pronouns others use based on perceptions of names or appearances. These assumptions are not always correct, and acting on these assumptions can be disrespectful or hurtful even when no harm is intended. Including pronouns on class lists can help avoid reliance on assumptions and support all students in having their identities respected in classes.
Students, note that many faculty print class rosters only at the beginning of the quarter. If you update your pronouns in the middle of a quarter faculty may not see this information if they have already printed the class roster. If you update your pronouns in Web4U mid-quarter, you may choose to notify your current professors directly.
At this time, pronouns will not appear on other electronic interfaces that are used when working with students (such as information visible to academic advisors). We are exploring the feasibility of having pronouns appear more broadly in the future.
Pronoun information about faculty and staff is not currently connected to other functionality in an automated way. Information about sharing pronouns via business cards and Western’s email signature generator is here.
How should faculty use information about students’ pronouns?
When a student has indicated their pronouns, faculty should use those pronouns when speaking about the student, whether or not the student is present.
Using pronouns that are unfamiliar or less familiar requires intentionality. You might find it helpful to review this chart showing how to use less familiar pronouns; wallet and notecard sized versions of this chart are available from the LGBTQ+ Director. You can also read LGBTQ+ Western’s webpage about Understanding and Respecting Personal Pronouns. That page links to a web tool that can be used to practice using different pronouns.
There are many different personal pronouns; the list of pronouns included in Web4U is not exhaustive. Students may use pronouns other than those included in Web4U and students’ requests to use such pronouns should be respected.
How will information about gender identity be used?
Unlike information about pronouns, which for students will appear on class lists, information about students’ and employees’ gender identities will not be shared in any individually identifying way. Used in aggregated ways, information about gender identity will help give Western a fuller understanding of who our students, faculty, and staff are. This information can help Western best develop and tailor support resources that advance the wellness and success of everyone in our community.
As required by law, gender identity information may not be used for discriminatory purposes and is treated confidentially.
How can students and employees update their pronoun or gender identity information?
Students and employees may update or remove this information at any time by logging into Web4U, going to the Personal Information tab, and selecting “Update Personal Pronouns and Gender Identity.”
As noted above, many faculty print class rosters only at the beginning of the quarter. If you update your pronouns in the middle of a quarter, faculty may not see this update. When an update is made mid-quarter, a student may choose to notify their professors directly.
How were the options for pronouns and gender identity determined?
A work group led by Western’s LGBTQ+ Director developed these options. The work group included student representatives from the Queer Resource Center and T.A.G. Team (Team for Trans and Gender Nonconforming Students), and faculty and staff representatives. To inform its decisions, the work group reviewed resources related to collection of such data, and consulted with Western’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness.
Is it still a good practice for faculty to give students the opportunity to share their pronouns in class at the beginning of the quarter?
Yes. In classes where students are invited to introduce themselves to one another, welcoming the sharing of pronouns as a part of those introductions is still a good practice. Although students’ pronouns will appear on class lists if they indicated their pronouns in Web4U, giving students who chose to do so the opportunity to share this information with classmates is a good practice.
Who should I contact if I have more questions about this?
Questions about updating one’s information in Web4U should be directed to the Registrar’s Office for students and the Department of Human Resources for employees. Concerns about discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression should be directed to the Equal Opportunity Office. Additional questions about why Western is collecting this information may be directed to the LGBTQ+ Director.