THE University of Sydney’s Student Representative Council unanimously passed a motion late last week that urged the university to allow students to utilise their preferred names on the online learning management system software and other network infrastructure.

 Focusing predominantly on the influence that the software has inadvertently had on trans* students, the university’s queer officer Edward McMahon stated recently that changes to the university’s online systems, known as Blackboard, needed to occur in order to promote the engagement and safety of minority students.

“As it currently stands, people are required to post content under their legal name or name at (the time of) enrolment. For trans* students in particular, this can mean outing yourself to classmates,” he said.

“This discourages participation in online education from queer students.”

The motion was also made to cater to international students who would like to Anglicise their name to make pronunciation easier, and to those who have been recently married or undergoing divorce.

In the past few years, universities such as the University of New England, University of Canberra, Monash University, Macquarie University and the University of Western Australia have made the the switch from Blackboard to other learning management systems such as “Moodle”, which offer better personalisation and support.

The Star Observer also understands that at University of Sydney, there has been incidences of anti transphobia and anti-homophobia posters posters being defaced and trans* students being threatened when using gender-appropriate bathrooms.

Despite this, media reports have indicated that various students, including those who identify as LGBTI, strongly believed that the university was still a friendlier place than most for minorities in Sydney.

The Star Observer is seeking comment from University of Sydney authorities regarding the motion.



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