The Blog

Earlier today, the University Registrar’s Office added the option to update your preferred name in SSOL.  The change, long requested by LGBTQ groups, will now allow students to have their name updated in course rosters, LionMail email aliases, and other Columbia sites. The change will not allow students to change their UNI or financial aid documentations due to legal restrictions.

In our interview with Barry Kane, the University Registrar, he noted that once submitted, “all name changes will be vetted by the Office of the Registrar and after the change is legitimized, the name will be updated on all rosters.” The change should be visible “as soon as the next day.”  While the change will be visible online quickly, it will take a few days for it to be updated for your ID card, Kane noted. Students will also be allowed to change their name back at any point through the same link.

To update your preferred name, one can simply visited the new “Preferred Name” tab in SSOL.

When asked about the process for incoming/future students, Kane said that they will be able to update their preferred name as soon as they receive their UNI to access to SSOL.

From the SSOL website,

“A name pronounced is the recognition of the individual to whom it belongs.” — Thoreau.

Columbia University now offers students the option to use Preferred Name on SSOL, Course Rosters, CourseWorks, the Online Directory, and the University ID Card.


Where will my Preferred Name appear?

  • University ID card*
  • Class Rosters
  • SSOL
  • CourseWorks/Canvas
  • CourseWorks discussion groups
  • Public Directory, unless a FERPA information block has been requested


Your Legal Name will be used in business and other processes that require use of a Legal Name. These include: 

  • International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) Documentation
  • Student Financial Services Documentation
  • Financial Aid
  • PowerFAIDS
  • Federal Requests for Information
  • National Student Clearinghouse
  • Transcripts
  • Academic Certifications
  • Diplomas
  • Athletics Rosters
  • Department of Public Safety


Nobody likes dealing with administrators. Their normal courses of action are either to give you information you already know, send you to someone else, or hand you a form. None of these are pleasant and I agree – it’s frustrating!

But here’s maybe the angle you didn’t consider: administrators are people, too. And they probably don’t have a particular passion for administrating.

I would argue that the majority of people do not get really excited about paperwork. Which means that, while they may not hate their jobs, they’re probably not overwhelmingly thrilled with it, either.

The fun parts of working an office job – like being with friends and having unlimited access to the Internet – are not really part of the whole paper-shuffling routine.

Much like you put off signing up for senior portraits in favor of hanging out and/or Facebook/Netflix/The Lion, administrators probably aren’t burning the midnight oil over your club’s request for more funding. (Let’s be honest, it’s probably just going toward more Insomnia Cookies.)

So, by not working at 100% efficiency, they’re pushing work off until tomorrow. What does this sound a lot like?


So maybe the secret isn’t really that administrators are horribly slow at everything they do – it’s just that they’re dealing with the stuff they didn’t do a week ago before getting around to your request. Maybe procrastinators are actually reasonably efficient people – it’s just that they’re also professional procrastinators.

And that’s something we can all empathize with.


This post was submitted anonymously by a member of the Columbia community and is not the official opinion of The Lion team. To respond to this piece or submit one of your own, email

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