Equal rights for LGBT people is a hot topic that evokes strong emotions on both sides of the issue. But regardless of which side of the fence one is on, it is a good thing that dialogues are taking place at the highest levels of the university.
An on-campus survey completed in 2008 found that five of the five openly gay students who were examined for the research exhibited levels of cautiousness and discomfort attributed to the “campus atmosphere.”
Being different can be difficult, and discrimination exists everywhere whether it is based on race, gender or sexual orientation. It is good that there are campus organizations to support these students who may feel added pressure because of their sexuality on top of all the other stresses imposed on students during their college years. Two such groups on campus are the Gay-Straight Alliance and the newly formed Iris Reaction, which ultimately hopes to establish a resource center and create a full-time administrative staff position dedicated to creating a welcoming environment for members of the LGBT community.
These are great for long-term goals, but given the current economic situation and the difficulty posed by attempting to assimilate official numbers to show how many students on campus are part of the LGBT community, the Iris Reaction may have better success if it first aims to create a student-held position to meet this need. Then, a better estimation of the need can be assessed without the university having to pony up an annual salary with limited evidence of demand.
The university has a diverse campus and the wide range of cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds that are represented here add to the learning experience. Getting to know LGBT people and break through the stereotypes is also an important part of that experience. But there are so many niche groups on campus, we can’t afford to create administrative staff positions to address the needs of each group. Utilizing existing organizations and resources is a far safer bet and a clearly obtainable goal.
Opinion editor Katie Martinez for the editorial board.