What’s Up With Those Email Aliases?

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Something's not quite right here...
Something's not quite right here...

Something’s not quite right here…

Columbia College University Senators Jared Odessky, Marc Heinrich, and Ramis Wadood sent out the below email regarding the new email aliases sent out to students this morning, and they’re not happy.

They’d previously been in contact with CUIT about creating new email aliases “especially for trans* identified students who wanted to display a name different from the one on their official documents” and to “create a more public-friendly alias.” CUIT told them it couldn’t happen this summer, then shocked us all with our new aliases this morning. Check your inbox, but we don’t see how the new aliases are any better than what we currently have (as most seem to follow a first initial, middle initial, last name, 4-digit UNI number format), and students have no choice in the matter.

If you’d like to give feedback to your senators as they continue to pester communicate with CUIT, you can do that.

Dear Columbia College,

You may have received an email from CUIT this morning indicating that an email alias was created to better reflect your name.

We brought the email alias issue to the attention of CUIT last year on several occasions, through the Senate Information and Communications Technology Committee as well as informal avenues. They had told us that providing email aliases wasn’t within their bandwidth for this summer, but it looks like that changed, and we certainly applaud their efforts at innovation and thank them for working with us.

One of our top concerns all along was the option to request a specific name, especially for trans* identified students who wanted to display a name different from the one on their official documents. Another goal was to create a more public-friendly alias that would work well in external communications, such as when reaching out to potential employers. Ultimately, however, students were not notified that CUIT was moving forward with rolling out aliases until this morning, and we were not consulted on what format this would take. We are worried that a change was made without achieving either of these aims.

While we are in contact with CUIT about these concerns, we also want to hear from you and ensure that your opinions are being communicated directly to CUIT. We set up a Google form (on the new LionMail Drive!) to record your responses. You will not be required to log in to LionMail to fill out the form, and leaving your UNI is strictly optional. If you would prefer for us not to use your response in communications with CUIT, please indicate this in the text box.

The form is available at this link: https://docs.google.com/a/columbia.edu/forms/d/1nXklV1zIdYGojpkqgfSdwnMhWzYXB1xhkt948w6mymw/viewform

Hope you’re enjoying your summer, and see you in the fall!
All the best,

Jared Odessky, CC’15

Marc Heinrich CC’16

Ramis Wadood, CC’16

University Senators imagined as United States Senators reading an email via Shutterstock 

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  1. Anonymous

    Poorly written as usual, bwog. care to elaborate on the senators' stance at all? it makes no sense right now.

  2. AAAnnnddddd

    I have another Wordpress troll account.
    Thanks CUIT!

  3. Upset

    Jared W. Odessky has failed to live up his campaign promises. CUIT could be installing STAR TREK DOORS in every dorm room. Instead he wants to change dumb email. This is because is he part of the GRAND CONSPIRACY to hide the space technologies from us people who voted for him. As a student of New England descent, I am appalled by these offensive remarks that strike down a long TRADITION of AMERICAN DEMOCRACY.

  4. Anonymous  

    Another useless survey...

  5. fdz  

    This makes people who have no middle initial's last names not apparent is it jsmith@columbia.edu or is it jsMith@columbia.edu? Bad Design 4 all

  6. Ramis, Marc, Jared

    Would marry 10/10

  7. Anonymous  

    CUIT is trying, clearly without any help or work on part of the senators - otherwise they would have known about it. Give CUIT a break.

  8. Anonymous

    YES! Another Amazon Prime account. Thanks CUIT!

  9. BoyWithQuestion

    Why do trans students need a different name than the one associated with their official documents? Just confused here because I think one of the reasons that aliases were brought up is because initials and numbers are so distant from our legal names.

    Am I just unaware than some trans people change their entire names? I'd assume that a first name change is commonplace. The new aliases only include last name.

    • Anonymous

      Hey, there! So a good alias system, like they have in place at Yale, Stanford, Duke, and many other places, generally allows you to have firstname.lastname@school.edu of your choice or something similar. So if I changed my first name, I could display that change in the alias. I get your point about the alias not displaying the entire first name, but you're also assuming that trans* individuals all choose to preserve their first name's initial -- while common, this isn't always the case.

      • annonny  

        So here at Columbia, we have two students named Brian A. Smith right now. How do we give them both the same alias?

        And don't forget we get our email addresses for life when we graduate. So what would the next Brian A. Smith do?

  10. Confused

    How is this turning into a Trans* student issue? I think Ramis, Jared, and Marc have it wrong.

    Our official email should be our LEGAL first name. LEGAL last name@Columbia.edu. I do not think any student can just choose any email address name based on identity. There is a process to legally change names; therefore, our email should only be our legal names. Otherwise I would pick Beyoncé.Knowles@columbia.edu.

    • Jared

      I can answer that! I think you're assuming that trans* people all choose the same first initial as their given name, which is certainly not the case. The legal name change process is pretty onerous and can take months while students face the continued discomfort of being addressed incorrectly by peers, faculty, admins, and potential employers who see their incorrect first initial displayed in their email and their incorrect first name displayed in the directory until the change is processed 1) by a government entity, and then 2) by Columbia (just IMAGINE the layers of bureaucracy that exist between those two processes).

      • Jared

        There are also a variety of reasons why a trans* person might choose to want to keep their given name for legal matters, but be addressed in personal and professional interactions by a different name.

  11. CC/SEAS of the CU SSJ


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