'Woke' university axes student initials from emails to be 'inclusive'

University is blasted as ‘woke’ for changing student email address format to use random letters – instead of the user’s initials – to be ‘more inclusive’ to those who are ‘assuming a new identity’

  • University of York introduced the measures after requests from some students 
  • Students will no longer use the initials of their names to identify their usernames
  • Uni chiefs ditched the idea because too many people were changing usernames 
  • Instead, students are given a random three letter code that will stick with them
  • But the decision has been branded ‘a parody of political correctness gone mad’

University bosses have been slammed as ‘woke cultists’ after they stopped using students’ initials for their emails and usernames – because it is not ‘inclusive’.

The University of York used to use the first letters of students’ first name and surname to create their official emails and the username.

But education chiefs have now scrapped the practice because they say too many people were changing gender or asking to change theirs part way through their courses for other reasons. 

Toby Young, the founder and director of the Free Speech Union, blasted the move and said: ‘This seems like a parody of political correctness gone mad, the sort of thing you’d expect to see in a Netflix series satirising the ideological capture of universities by woke cultists.’ 

But the top-flight university insisted it decision was about improving students’ experience at the institution and followed a number of requests from learners.

‘We feel that breaking the link between a person’s name and their username is important for making the University of York a more inclusive place to work and study,’ the university added in an online explainer.  

The University of York introduced the measure earlier this month, which bosses at the institution say could improve students’ experience. Pictured is York’s campus

York said some students were adopting Western names or getting married or divorced and didn’t want to keep the same initials.

While others had ‘difficult’ family relationships and didn’t want to be associated with their surname.

The university has now said it will simply use randomly generated letters with no relation to the people involved.

Leaders at the institution argue that not using initials – which can change if students alter their gender while they are studying – can improve students’ experience.

An explainer on the University of York’s website said the decision was taken this month and added: ‘Usernames are a unique identifier for users within the University.

‘Unfortunately, basing them upon a person’s initials means that some people ask for their username to be changed when they believe that it no longer reflects their identity.

‘This normally happens when someone has changed their name – for example, following marriage or divorce, to adopt a Western name, to distance themselves from a difficult family relationship or to match their gender identity.

‘Unfortunately, we do not currently support changing a person’s username as it is used as the primary identifier in a large number of disconnected systems.

‘We would like to support this in the future but enabling this will be a long-term project.

‘What we can do now is improve the experience for new staff and students in such situations, and so we have changed the way we generate usernames for all users (staff, students and other affiliated users alike).

‘We feel that breaking the link between a person’s name and their username is important for making the University of York a more inclusive place to work and study.’

Criticising the move, social commentator Mr Young said: ‘I still can’t believe it is real. 

‘Wouldn’t it be simpler to just stick with the system they know and which everyone has got used to?

‘If the university authorities want to cheer up trans students, they should just give them the money that they will inevitably have to spend dealing with the unintended consequences of introducing this crackpot idea.

‘Since there are probably no more than a dozen trans students on campus, I imagine that solution would be very popular with them.’

The change came after students requested to alter their username when they felt it didn’t reflect their identity – because of marriage, divorce, adopting a Western name, distancing themselves from their family or wanting it to match their gender identity.

But the university couldn’t alter these as usernames are used to uniquely identify students across all the institution’s disconnected systems.

In the new identification style, the university will no longer be using vowels or the letter ‘y’ to avoid names, profanities or offensive words – and has asked students to report any combinations they think should be blacklisted. 

The approach has been implemented for students and staff joining the University after October 12 – and will not affect those already studying.

Their name will still appear on the email system as the sender.

A University of York spokesperson said: ‘With our existing systems, we are not able to fulfil any requests by staff or students to change their username to more accurately reflect their current initials – for example, as a result of marriage or assuming a new identity.

‘The aim of our new approach, which uses randomly selected letters and numbers to create usernames, is to break the perceived link between a person’s name and username, therefore avoiding any issues individuals may have on the inclusion of their current or future initials.’

The university – which ranked 24th in the UK last year – had a total income of £414million in 2020-21.

Earlier this month it announced a £6million package to help students through the cost-of-living crisis – including a £150 energy grant for households.

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