FEEDBACK: Elmhurst really the first?

Elmhurst really the first?

Regarding the article, “Elmhurst College becomes 1st to ask about sexual orientation,” in the Aug. 29 issue of Dallas Voice.

Three colleges that I know of personally have been asking this for several years. Elmhurst is far from the first to ask about sexual orientation.

I applied to law school with the University of Pennsylvania and they ask this. U.C. Berkley used to ask this, though I’m not sure if they still do. Either Cornell or Columbia also ask on their applications.

Ryan R. Cooper, via email

Editor’s note: According to Shane L. Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, Elmhurst College is the first college to ask about sexual orientation as an optional demographic question on an undergraduate application. Graduate schools, especially law schools, have been asking the question and UPenn and Dartmouth have been leaders in that area. Windmeyer said that probably has to do with age — many students aren’t out when they’re first applying to college but have come out by the time they’re applying to graduate school. Law schools may be asking because of injustice that’s been done to the LGBT community and the variety of cases involving discrimination against the LGBT community. Other undergraduate applications have asked about interests. But interest in joining a group such as a GSA is not the direct demographic information that Elmhurst is asking.

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 31, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Elmhurst College becomes 1st to ask about sexual orientation

Circle Hall at Elmhurst College

Students who identify as LGBT might qualify for scholarships, can be directed to campus groups, president says

Associated Press

ELMHURST, Ill. — Elmhurst College in suburban Chicago has become the first in the country to ask students directly on admissions applications about their gender identity and sexual orientation.

The application asks: “Would you consider yourself to be a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) community?”

Students who answer “yes” may be eligible for a scholarship that will pay up to a third of tuition, said Gary Rold, the college’s dean of admissions. The information also will help officials direct incoming students to services and groups that could help them on campus, Rold added.

“Increasing diversity is part of our mission statement,” Rold told the Chicago Sun-Times. “This is simply closing the loop, in many ways, of another group who has a very strong identity. It may not be race and religion, but it’s an important part of who they are.”

The question will appear on applications for students hoping to start in the fall of 2012. Like questions about race and religion, answering is optional and will not affect admissions decisions.

Elmhurst College is a private, liberal arts college that has 3,300 undergraduate students. It is affiliated with the United Church of Christ.

“It is kind of a pleasant surprise that Elmhurst College in Illinois is the first campus to ask an identity question,” said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, a national nonprofit group. “Some of the leaders in college admissions have done similar stuff but never asked the question.”

Information from: Chicago Sun-Times, SunTimes.com.

—  John Wright