For the first time, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community at Yale has a new liaison for formal communication with University administrators.
Maria Trumpler, who will be director of undergraduate studies in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department in the spring, has been appointed as a special advisor to the administration on all matters relating to the life of LGBTQ students and staff at Yale, University Provost Andrew Hamilton announced in an e-mail to the LGBTQ Needs Assessment Task Force.
Trumpler — previously the coordinator of bisexual, lesbian, gay and transgender advisers at Harvard University — said she will spend the fall talking with students and University administrators, trying to get a feel for the issues and problems that LGBTQ students face. In addition, she will speak with administrators at other colleges about ways those schools have offered support for their LGBTQ populations, she said.
“I’m going to be talking to people at Yale who are already very active on LGBTQ issues and then some people who aren’t yet,” Trumpler said. “I’m going to talk to registrars’ offices, athletic departments, housing offices, and I’ll be thinking about places that Yale can improve its support for LGBTQ issues.”
Trumpler said she will prepare a report on her findings in January and hopes to spend the spring semester implementing some of her proposed changes.
Last spring, the Task Force — a group of undergraduate and graduate students who joined together to give voice to several previously separate campus LGBTQ organizations about four years ago — submitted a report to Hamilton about the needs of LGBTQ students at Yale, Task Force member Rudy Kleysteuber GRD ’07 said.
He said the Task Force submitted its report after its members concluded that the University lacked adequate support structures for the problems confronting LGBTQ students.
“These people got together informally and realized that there was no institutionalized support network for gay and lesbian students at Yale and that the resources that we had available to them were sort of ad hoc and transient,” Kleysteuber said. “They were there one year, and then the next year no one would pick them up.”
Kleysteuber said a list of Yale’s institutional shortcomings — such as a lack of counseling for students in the process of coming out — was included in the Task Force’s 20-page report, which also contained a comparison of other schools’ support for LGBTQ students and a list of the most pressing needs on Yale’s campus.
Following that report and a series of discussions with various student groups, Hamilton decided to create a formal adviser position that would give a single person the responsibility of investigating the challenges LGBTQ students face, he said.
“As a result of those meetings, we felt that Yale would benefit from a closer consideration of academic and life issues as they affect students from this community,” Hamilton said.
Trumpler said she has not done enough investigation yet to speculate about the types of problems confronting LGBTQ students that she might discover this year.
Hugh Baran ’09, the coordinator of the Queer Political Action Committee, said he applauds Trumpler’s appointment as a step forward for Yale’s LGBTQ community. He said Trumpler could provide, for the first time, a central source of information about support structures available to students and could help in advocating for issues of importance to the LGBTQ community — such as changing the University’s official non-discrimination policy to include gender identity and gender expression.
“Having an institutional voice in the Dean’s Office on behalf of LGBTQ students would be a way to speed change like that,” he said.
But some students said they are skeptical about the need for this new position.
“I don’t think it’s something the administration necessarily needs to concern itself with,” Casper Desfeux ’10 said. “From what I have experienced from my time at Yale so far, it seems absolutely unnecessary. It seems like a waste of resources.”
Trumpler held previous positions at Yale and Middlebury College before joining Harvard’s faculty in 2001, and has 20 years of experience teaching and advising on LGBTQ issues. She rejoined the Yale faculty this year.