The University of Pennsylvania is reaching out to potential members of its LGBT community before they even reach Philadelphia.
Penn started the program last spring, when members of Penn’s LGBT community contacted accepted students who self-identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, the Daily Pennsylvanian reported. Last year, 60 regular decision applicants were contacted, but this year the program is expanding to include those who are accepted early.
Under the program, application readers “flag” applicants who identified themselves as LGBT, considered themselves a strong ally to the community or had LGBT parents. Then, once they are accepted, these students are assigned to members of Penn’s LGBT umbrella organization, who send them a personal e-mail.
The purpose of the program is to let pre-freshmen know about “resources on campus and ways to connect with LGBT and ally communities,” said Regional Director of Admissions and LGBT liason Jordan Pascucci in an e-mail to the Daily Pennsylvanian.
Not everyone is clear on the nature of the initiative, however. Some college counselors believe the program to give an advantage to the “flagged” students in the admissions process, when it is really part of an effort to encourage LGBT students to apply to the University.
Bob Schoenberg, director of Penn’s LGBT Center, told the Daily Pennsylvanian that there has been a noticeable increase in LGBT applicants in the early decision round.