Over the past few years, administrators, students and faculty on the task force and the committee have worked together to launch 13 initiatives that support LGBTQ+ groups.
Outside the Ruth S. Harley University Center and the Hagedorn Hall of Enterprise, a rainbow banner serves as a welcoming beacon for LGBTQ+ students, faculty, staff and guests.
It’s just one symbol of the depth of Adelphi’s support for the LGBTQ+ community, and a result of the hard work of the campus LGBTQ Task Force and LGBTQ and Allies Committee, which develop strategies, initiatives and programs for acceptance and inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community.
Over the past few years, administrators, students and faculty on the task force and the committee have worked together to launch 13 initiatives that support LGBTQ+ groups. These include establishing all-gender restrooms in residence halls, forming an LGBTQ+ empowerment group, celebrating National Coming Out Day, and providing Safe Zone training to help admissions counselors and staff become allies.
“As Adelphi becomes a model of diversity and inclusion, the LGBTQ+ initiatives are an important part of showing students, faculty and staff that Adelphi University is a great place to be you,” said Adam Visconti, associate director of residential life and housing.
A focus on mentoring
In addition to community-wide programs, Adelphi also offers a powerful way to help individual LGBTQ+ students flourish at the University.
“LGBTQ+ students can feel marginalized or that they don’t have a voice,” said Chotsani West, M.A. ’07, director of student mentoring. “Students who feel that way often don’t have any contact with faculty or staff members. Our mentoring program creates those important contacts, pairing students with someone who understands who they are. “
The mentoring program, she explained, offers students a choice between working on a one-to-one basis with a mentor or in a group setting with multiple mentors. Most LGBTQ+ students choose the latter, taking advantage of the varied perspectives available in a group.
Mentors help LGBTQ+ students in a number of ways. “They discuss issues relating to social-emotional growth, such as how to have a conversation with family members about sexual identity issues, or how to have healthy relationships with peers and professionals,” West explained. “But they also talk about what it means to be a whole student, covering things like academic issues, financial literacy and career goals.”
Mentors undergo many hours of preparation for their role, first in the program’s orientation and training sessions, then in workshops hosted by the Multicultural Affairs section of the Center for Student Involvement. They are also encouraged to participate in campuswide events such as LGBTQ Around the World and Transgender Awareness Week.
“The program has helped so many students,” West said. “One is Monroe Marshall [’17], a recent alumnus who actually helped launch the LGBTQ+ program. When we met, he was beginning his journey of transition and was so open about it. He’s one of the biggest supporters of mentoring and says that it provided just the right support he needed at just the right time.”
The mentoring program is, of course, open to any and all Adelphi students. Enrollment is on an ongoing basis, and students can join at any time.
A model for diversity and inclusion
The school’s efforts toward creating a campus inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community are attracting national attention. This spring, Campus Pride Index recognized Adelphi as a top school when it comes to supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and students who are questioning their identity. And this summer, Adelphi Athletics received a gold medallion from the LGBT SportSafe Inclusion Program for its efforts promoting inclusion and understanding.
Still, Adelphi leaders know there is always room to grow towards becoming a more inclusive and LGBTQ+-friendly campus.
“We owe it to our students and each other to model a world that embraces diversity and inclusion, particularly a world in which everyone is free to love who they love free of scorn, discrimination or rebuke,” said Perry Greene, Ph.D., vice president for diversity and inclusion.
In the future, Visconti hopes to see a resource office with a full-time staff member who supports LGBTQ+ students and programs, LGBTQ+ scholarships and mentoring, and an active LGBTQ+ alumni chapter.
“These changes,” he said, “will truly make Adelphi a model of diversity and inclusion.”
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