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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Policy regarding name change for P-Cards causes administration to revisit their rules

The College has clarified its policy on name-changes for Pioneer Cards. Photo by Helena Gruensteidl.

  By Kelly Page


All Grinnell College students wish we could change our P-card pictures. For some students, however, a much more serious issue is the ability to change the names on their P-cards, especially when they no longer identify with that name.

“I decided, hey, I don’t like having my dead name on my P-Card, so I went into the office where they do P-Card stuff and said ‘Hey, can you help me out with this?’” said Warren Schweitzer ’20. “And they gave me some excuses about how it’s not my real name, when in fact my real name is Warren. … They basically said they can’t do it until it’s your legal name. It takes a lot of resources to be able to change your legal name.”  

Schweitzer explained the importance of trans students being able to have their name-in-use on their P-Card. 

“It’s a big deal because when you’re trans and you’re called by the name that you were born with, at least for me, it’s sort of jarring. It’s like a kick to the gut saying you’re not really there yet.”  

According to Associate Dean of Students and Director of Intercultural Affairs Maure Smith-Benanti, Schweizer should have been allowed to change his P-Card name all along.  

The College has clarified its policy on name-changes for Pioneer Cards. Photo by Helena Gruensteidl.

“I can guess why there’s a history of why that might be the case,” Smith-Benanti said. “In higher ed there has often been a misconception that student ID cards, especially at state institutions, are legal forms of ID documents. That’s not the case, but lots of people believe that it is. … Our policy is that people can use their name-in-use. I think the problem is that people just got confused about what the policy was and in fact did turn students away, but that isn’t the policy anymore. ” 

Smith-Benanti says that there is an official written name change policy in works, which will hopefully soon be made available to students and administration. Until then, she asks that students who wish to change their name in official Grinnell systems and on their P-Cards reach out to her so she can assist them and advocate for them through the process.  

“Students in the process of a name change may notice that in some software systems, the names are not aligning the way they want them to, and should let me know so we can kind of track down where that’s happening and work with ITS to get aligned properly,” Smith-Benanti said. “I want to make sure that in the future that’s taken care of.”  

Smith-Benanti wants to remind students that the Stonewall Resource Center (SRC) and the Trans Advocacy Group (TAG) exist on campus as additional resources for trans students. 

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