The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer Needs Assessment Task Force, a 12-member body composed of students, faculty and administrators, is calling on the Yale administration to provide institutional support for LGBTQ students and increase campus awareness of LGBTQ issues.
The group’s report, titled “Initiative to Improve LGBTQ Life at Yale,” found that existing resources at Yale do not meet the needs of LGBTQ students. The task force is calling for the appointment of a full-time, paid LGBTQ coordinator, the formation of a University-recognized committee, and the establishment of an LGBTQ community center on campus similar in concept to the Afro-American Cultural Center. Last Sunday, the Yale College Council also acted on the issue, voting 18-1 to send an official letter to Provost Andrew Hamilton seeking redress for the lack of institutional support that the task force said significantly hinders Yale’s ability to discourage discrimination.
LGBT Student Cooperative Treasurer Michael Linares ’09 said he thinks the lack of administrative support and centralized resources are indicative of a lack of support for LGBTQ concerns.
“We don’t have administrators who would keep our interests in mind,” he said. “We don’t have a set venue for LGBTQ issues so anything that needs to get done has to be done completely by student effort.”
Cooperative Coordinator Patrick Ward ’08, who presented the report to YCC, said the report says the University should take on a bigger role in the LGBTQ community.
“Support services are not the sort of thing that should be dependent on the generosity or dedication of students,” he said.
YCC Secretary Kasdin Miller ’07, who authored the YCC letter to Hamilton, said it will be sent to Hamilton after it is reviewed by the task force. Miller said that Yale is lagging behind other universities in resources for LGBTQ students — for instance, Harvard, Brown and Stanford universities have LGBTQ centers and administrators, she said. But Miller said she thinks the administration is likely to act on the demands enumerated in the Task Force document because it has always been responsive to student needs.
“The administration is supportive of campus wide events for LGBTQ students and it enforces very strict discrimination policies,” she said.
YCC President Stevent Syverud ’06 also said he is hopeful for change, although it is difficult to predict how exactly the administration will act on the initiative.
“We believe that it is an important issue and we’re going to stay involved in it,” he said. “We want to show the administration that this is not just a fringe group acting but has the whole student body behind it.”
History professor William Summers, who served on the committee and drafted a letter in the appendix of the document, said he thinks it is important that the administration support LGBTQ students because they are a sizable fraction of the Yale community.
“There are a variety of things that Yale does for its cultural minorities and certainly LGBTQ cuts across all of these,” he said. “The system should take cognizance of that and help these students in whichever ways they need support.”
Students had mixed reactions to the prospect of institutional support for LGBTQ students.
David Carpman ’06 said he feels that if the administration were to create a center like the Af-Am House, it would benefit the LGBTQ community.
“An institutionally supported community center where there is a faculty liaison, community groups, and many student groups that use the building could be great,” he said. “I think it could provide a center for the LGBTQ community that I don’t think exists now.”
But Priscilla Adams ’06 said such support is only necessary if the administration decides to consider these students as part of a minority group.
“Otherwise, I don’t see the particular need for there to be an extra staff just for the sake of having one,” she said.
The Needs Assessment Task Force was formed in September 2004 by a number of student groups to make a preliminary assessment of the needs of LGBTQ students.