2017-19: Request to Revise Language in the Preferred Name Field

Request No. 2017-19
Date of RequestSeptember 19, 2016 
RequesterGerald Sequeira
Citrus College 
Application(s)OpenCCC Account 
Section / Page

Preferred Name 

Steering ApprovalApproved / Deferred
to next version of CCCApply
(new MyOpenCCC Account)
Steering Hearing DateApril 26, 2017
Proposed Change to Download File No
Proposed Change to Residency LogicNo 

Problem / Issue

Request from Citrus College to re-examine the additional onscreen text that displays in the Preferred Name section of OpenCCC Account Creation.  


I think there are several problems with the note on preferred names. 

Note: Not all colleges may allow the use of preferred first names for academic purposes due to legal or technical restriction.

California has a common law right to the use of someone’s preferred name and this statement suggests colleges may choose to violate a person’s common law right to a preferred name.  I think a better statement would be to let students know to contact the college they are applying to in order to understand how the preferred name entered on CCCApply will be used.  It is better for CCCApply to stay neutral on this debate than to take a position that I don’t think is legally accurate. 

Our college was sent a cease and desist letter to use a student’s preferred name.  We got legal counsel opinion that told us to use the preferred name on rosters and communications to students but not on official documents such as diplomas and transcripts.  We were told to do so irregardless of technological challenges as otherwise we would be in violation of the right. 

Gerald Sequeira
Dean of Admissions & Records
Citrus College

  • Below is the message that Gerald received from his staff member to alert him to the issue:
 Click here to expand...

I was going through the questions to create an account with the pilot of Open CCCApply.  Considering what Citrus has been through with preferred names, I was somewhat concerned about the statement prior to entering Preferred Names: “Note: Not all colleges may allow the use of preferred first names for academic purposes due to legal or technical restriction.”  I guess it’s vague enough but it seems the other way around that due to law we’re obligated to use preferred names when applicable.

Proposed Solution

The Steering committee discussed several options to use for the wording of the replacement text - during the April 26 steering meeting.  Four options were voted on and the third option (see below) was Approved for development.  

"Please contact your college for more information on how a preferred name may or may not be used at their institution."

NOTE: The question about whether this additional text should be added to the Preferred section in Edit Account, was deferred to CCCApply 3.0 or at the time the OpenCCC Account is integrated into MyPath.

Change Variations reviewed for Approval:

  1. Contact your college to understand how the preferred name entered on CCCApply will be used.
  2. The use of preferred first name for academic purposes may or may not be used by the college due to technical or legal restrictions.
  3. Please contact your college for more information on how a preferred name may or may not be used at their institution.
  4. The use of a preferred name for academic purposes is a decision made at the college level, please contact your college for additional information.



The Preferred Name section in OpenCCC has different validation requirements compared to the Legal Name and Previous Legal Name fields, mainly because a “preferred” name is not a legal name.  Therefore the validations CAN be loose relative to these fields; however, when we were first defining the requirements for this section we opted to keep the section consistent with the Legal and Previous field sections, because the development team could quickly reproduce in the interest of time and resources, and for consistency.  

However, there are some reasons why Preferred Names should be slightly inconsistent:

  1. There are no regulations for a student “preferred” name from a legal perspective or from an Ed Code perspective for residency.  A ‘preferred’ name is cannot be used on a legal document (officially) and therefore, we do not really need to enforce strict validation on the student’s use of a preferred name.  

  2. For residency purposes, we require Users to provide a Legal Last Name. There is no option for a user to not have a Legal Last Name.  If a user has only one name, such as “Cher” or “Madonna” - they must enter this in the Legal Last Name field in OpenCCC.

  3. A user can only have ONE Legal Last Name at a time.However, legally a student must provide a Legal Last Name for residency, therefore we do not have a “No Legal Last Name” checkbox for Legal Last Name field.

  4. Same for Previous Last Name.  There are no legal (federal or state) regulations for a preferred name. Preferred names would not be considered official from a legal perspective in a court of law, for tax purposes, for  fields should be "optional".  We may have over-validated the Preferred Name fields when defining the requirements.  A "Previous" name is a secondary "Legal"  name, meaning a Previous legal name used on legal documents, such as a birth certificate, marriage license, driver's license, etc.  For example, I was married previously and my "legal" name at the time was "Patricia Molesworth". It was on my driver's license, it was on my bank account, it was my name when I attended CSU, Chico.  Colleges need to know Previous Name information so they can obtain transcripts and confirm other legal information for residency.  A "Preferred" name - on the other hand - may or may not be used on legal documents; most likely a Preferred name is used informally in non-legal situations.  If Bruce Jenner wants to be called Kaitlyn Jenner informally, that's fine, but until she registers to vote, or legally changes her name, Kaitlyn is not her legal name or previous legal name.  For residency purposes, we will make this distinction.  Legal name is required (First or No First Name; Middle or No Middle Name; and Last Name fields are required).  The User must have a Last Name to create an OpenCCC Account.

Each of the three "Name" sections have different (inconsistent) requirements and validations:

1) Legal Name

For the most part, Legal names are required by OpenCCC. The User MUST enter a Legal Last Name to create their account. The legal Last Name must be the name that appears on their legal documents such as Birth Certificate, Driver's License, Voter Registration, etc.  The Legal First, and Legal Middle names are not required to exist (by Federal OCR laws) but OpenCCC will require the user to either provide the Legal First and Middle OR check the box that they do not have a Legal First or Legal Middle.  In other words, they may not have these names, but we will require them to check the box then stating they don't have them.  If a person has only one name - like Cher - we will require that she enters this single name in the Legal Last name field.

2) Previous Legal Name

Previous Names are optional (Opt-in) in account creation and Edit account. OpenCCC does not require the user to have a Previous Name; however, we strongly encourage users to provide Legal Previous Names in order to procure academic transcripts, etc. If the user "opts-in" for the Previous Name question ("Yes, I have a previous name..." then the following validation should be in place across all six Previous fields.

A) Previous First name or No Previous First must be entered (required)

B) Previous Middle name or No Previous Middle name must be entered (required);

C) Previous Last Name or No Previous Last Name must be entered, a Previous Middle or No Previous Middle name must be entered, AND a Previous Last or No Previous Last Name must be entered.  Use must enter a

3) Preferred Name

(Add the requirements & specifications here.)


1) Original implementation:

2) Proposed revision to additional onscreen text: