Staff Editorial: University must update data systems


Editorial Staff

On Sept. 30, the Old Gold & Black ran an article detailing Assistant Vice President for Equitable Policy and LGBTQ+ Center Director A.J. Mazaris’ efforts toward ensuring preferred names are visible across all data systems. We write in support of this effort.

The Data Standards Working Group, according to Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion José Villalba, has already come up with a way to change the university’s naming systems. The university, per Villalba, has not yet purchased the — admittedly expensive — systems needed to enact this change, however.

If the price is discouraging the administration from taking this crucial step, which it seems may be the case, then we disapprove. Especially given the amount of money this university has, paying to update the data systems to ensure the dignity of those who have changed their name is critical to fostering a feeling of inclusivity and acceptance among those students. Anything short of that commitment would be failing those students.

The Data Standards Working Group was founded in 2017, after the North Carolina legislature passed H.B. 2, a bill designed to humiliate transgender people in all facets of public life, especially bathrooms. Now, four years later, transgender students are watching alarmed as legislation in many states deny their peers’ basic rights.

A few days ago, North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson called transgender topics “filth.” The time is ripe for Wake Forest to recommit to honoring the humanity of transgender students, and that starts with honoring the names they have chosen for themselves.

Transgender students are also not the only students who are affected by this, however. Students who change their name for cultural reasons or to shed past traumas also should not need to contend with deadnaming brought on by issues in the data collection system.

Even disregarding the issue of students having the wrong name populate onto class rosters and DeaconOne Cards, the university’s data systems are long overdue for an update. There is no reason, for example, why DeaconOne Cards cannot move to a mobile format in addition to physical cards, or why Banner cannot be updated or replaced. And there is no reason why the data systems should not be streamlined. Certainly, with an $80,000 cost of attendance, money should not be an object.