Column: Universities right in recruiting diversity

By Jerriann Sullivan

Central Florida Future, U. Central Florida via UWIRE

College fairs are not a new event, but schools across the country are moving to modernize their campuses by attending fairs aimed solely at recruiting gay students.

The New York Times reported on the trend earlier this year, but it is always a good time to talk about making college campuses more welcoming to diverse students.

With every piece on the importance of equal rights for all college students, we, as a society, are closer to achieving that goal. Ideally, students should feel comfortable applying to every single college in the U.S. But because that is not yet the case, I thought I would highlight some of the benefits of these new college fairs.

A university sets the tone of its campus with its rules, policies and procedures. By openly recruiting gay students, these universities are telling the students — and the world — that they will not stand for the type of discrimination that is unfortunately still present throughout the U.S.

Hopefully, as each college moves toward ending useless prejudice against students, parts of the country will follow in its footsteps.

Finding a school that is welcoming of your sexual orientation can make the entire process of higher education easier. Recently, scholarships and additional financial aid have been created to help pay for some of the costs of colleges from groups such as the Point Foundation, the League Foundation at AT&T, and COLAGE — Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere.

A student who is uncomfortable talking about his or her sexual orientation because of fears of discrimination on campus could miss these great opportunities.

It is not fair that a deserving student might avoid specific scholarships because of outside opinions. Again, implementing events such as the college fairs help set the tone that students are welcome to attend these schools without fear of what others might think.

In addition to receiving helpful financial aid, students can feel more comfortable finding or receiving information on gay students and organizations on campus. The Times explained how the University of Pennsylvania received a lot of attention when the online publication

Inside Higher Ed wrote about the school’s new outreach policy.

The arrangement includes taking applicants whose college essay identifies them as gay and putting them in touch with students and organizations on campus.

The school did so in an attempt to make the transition to college easier. Colleges have been doing it for years — just not based on a student’s sexual orientation.

Still, the process could be a little surprising. Attending a school where gay and lesbian students are recruited could make a student feel more open and comfortable to receiving this information, which is the reason for having organizations on college campuses.

I can’t imagine not participating in the clubs that have helped me become a better student. It is only fair that all students feel equally comfortable joining clubs or organizations that help them become successful college graduates.

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