At a college admissions fair held in Logan Hall yesterday, students were able to ask about gay life on campus. Representatives from various colleges and universities throughout the Delaware Valley area came to Logan Hall yesterday in an attempt to reach out to gay and questioning high school students and give them information about gay communities at their respective schools. Penn is the third university to hold an event of this kind, drawing together around 10 area colleges and a small group of high school students targeted by an outreach program. "We are always interested in creative ways for outreach," said Jim Bock, director of admissions at Swarthmore College. "We are glad the college fair's organizers have opened the doors to give students the opportunity to find a safe environment on not only an academic, but also a social level." One of the biggest problems for gay and questioning students who are seeking information about gay resources is finding a way to get information discretely. "It's a difficult issue in admissions," said Julie Russo, a student worker in the admissions office at Swarthmore. "It's hard to figure out how to get information out to people. This is a wonderful forum [for reaching people]." Erin Cross, assistant director for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center at Penn, echoed Russo's sentiment, saying that at standard college fairs it is hard for students to ask about gay issues when their parents or peers are present. However, Conestoga High School junior Adam Brody stressed the importance of asking questions about gay support groups at various universities when investigating college options, even if it's uncomfortable at first. "Gay issues are a real concern and you'd be shafting yourself not to go ahead and ask anyway," Brody said. The decision to hold gay-oriented college fairs came after researchers at the University of Minnesota at Twin Cities discovered that there was a common need among gay and questioning high school students to find information on the climate and resources available at various colleges. "We're being contacted by more and more students who are coming out or exploring their sexual orientation while they're still in high school, so knowing something about what it will be like for them at various colleges and universities, being an out or exploring student, is extremely important," LGBTC Director Bob Schoenberg said. "This is a way for them to find out, to talk to students who are already at those colleges and to talk to admissions counselors." While the event did not draw a large turnout, attracting approximately 10 high school students, several universities in attendance used the event as a chance to network and update one another on upcoming activities. And the students present seemed to benefit from the resources available at the fair. "It put things in perspective to see how many colleges are so supportive," Conestoga High School junior Amy Knight said. "It's nice that they brought so many students who are involved [in the gay community]." The event was sponsored by the LGBTC; the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network; the Philadelphia chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays; and Safeguards, a gay men's health and prevention organization.Comments powered by Disqus
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