Collecting, Maintaining, and Presenting Demographic Data

UB departments and programs may consider collecting demographic data via surveys, Formstack, Google Forms, UB Marketplace, paper forms or other methods. At the same time, this information is considered sensitive and private. Before collecting this data, please consider these best practices:

  • Determine if the data is relevant for you to collect. 
  • Determine your purpose and goals for collecting the data.
  • Understand and abide by the university polices related to data security, data risk, restricted data, and handling data safely. 
  • When asking questions to collect data, use the most inclusive formats.
  • Evaluate if the question(s) are: open-ended, select one or all that apply, dropdown lists (valid values) or fill-in-the-blanks if no relevant value exists.
  • Determine if there is a System of Record to obtain the data.
  • Request proper access.

Preferred/Chosen Names and Pronouns Policy

The University at Buffalo recognizes that individuals may use a first or middle name other than their legal name to identify themselves. Additionally, individuals may use pronouns that reflect their gender identity.

Preferred/Chosen Name

The university will use an individual’s preferred/chosen name and pronouns, when possible, in the course of university education and business unless the birth name or legal name is required by law or the preferred/chosen name is used for purposes of misidentification, fraud, or misrepresentation.  This includes mailings that may go to home addresses.

UBIT Data Policies

Individuals who collect, access, retrieve, update, process, analyze, store, distribute, or in other manners use university data are responsible for securing and protecting the data in accordance with the Protection of University Data Policy and Data Risk Classification Policy.

This includes demographic information such as Race/Ethnicity, Gender, Gender Identity, Age or Date of Birth, Disability or Veteran status and other sensitive demographics.

This data must be protected to safeguard privacy and maintain compliance with State and Federal Laws and Regulations.

Data Access

The Information Security Office has a course called Handling Data Safely to help UB community members who may come into contact with restricted or private data. This includes student/employee demographic data.

Always use the University System Of Record for source data.

Race/Ethnicity Data

Educational institutions often collect and report race and ethnicity in a two-part format in accordance with the 1997 U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidelines with five categories for data on race. This information should be collected in a "select as many as apply" format. 

Consider the following inclusive suggestions:

  • Include an explanation of why the information is being collected and how the information will be used
  • Avoid using  the term "minority" to identify or designate non-White racial groups 

Pronouns and Gender Identity

Campuses are required to have all operational systems reflect a student's pronouns in any instance consistent with federal law where a student is comfortable sharing such information.


An honorific/salutation is a title that conveys esteem or respect. While some honorifics such as “Doctor” or “Professor” do not convey gender, the common honorifics of “Mr.,” “Mrs.” and “Ms.” do. 

Often it is unnecessary to collect honorifics but if asking, incorporate the "Mx." and "M." titles as alternative honorifics to binary honorifics. Consider an open field to allow individuals to specify their honorifics. 


Always use aggregate or summary data vs. individual identifiable data for producing reports, dashboard displays, research and such.


  • 15% of those surveyed identify as Hispanic or Latinx
  • Two-thirds of those who participated identify as Female
  • 75% of those surveyed are under the age of 30
Refresh Your Data

Before any major communication, mailing, report generation, or other process using name or demographic data, ensure you are using the most up-to-date data from the University system of record if possible as name, honorifics, and other demographics fields may change over time.

Please be mindful to secure individual row level demographic data (e.g. "Jane Doe, white female with a disability") in electronic and paper formats in accordance with data security guidelines listed on this page.  

Vendor Packages/Software

UB continues to make progress promoting the use of chosen names, pronouns and other gender markers wherever possible and updating computer systems across campus. 

The SUNY Board of Trustees recently directed all 64 of its campuses to update their policies on chosen names and pronouns to ensure that transgender, gender non-conforming and nonbinary students are fully reflected in campus systems.

When discussing and evaluating a potential software purchase with a vendor: ask questions about functionality for Chosen names, Pronouns, Non-binary gender markers and Gender neutral honorifics.

For More Information

Email the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) or phone EDI at (716) 645‑2266 if you have questions or need more information.