Colleges and Universities Are Struggling to Catalogue Trans Students'...

Higher Education

Colleges and Universities Are Struggling to Catalogue Trans Students' Genders

Jun 2, 2016

'CIS' IN THE SYSTEM: Colleges and universities are finding that supporting transgender students may not just mean a shift in attitudes. Many institutions are dealing with data management systems that do not have the capabilities to catalogue a student's preferred gender, Inside Higher Ed reports. The Education Department has issued a Dear Colleague Letter saying that universities may lose their federal funding for not supporting trans students, but few software providers offer options beyond "Male," "Female," or "Unknown," Inside Higher Ed writes.

Universities often host their own enterprise resource planning software—programs used to register students—in their own servers rather than in the cloud, making a universal change difficult. Joel Dehlin, CEO of the software provider Kuali, told Inside Higher Ed that changing all of them to a customizable gender option would be a "nightmare." Some companies have paid for the flaw, though. Earlier this year, Ellucian was fined $140,000 for discriminating against a transgender employee.

Hampshire College in Massachusetts may have found a workaround, according to Inside Higher Ed. The private liberal arts college collects "sex assigned at birth" and offers an accompanying free response box through custom tables in its enterprise resource planning system, Colleague by Ellucian.


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