Last month, DuPage Greens reported that Wheaton College is the least friendly college towards members of the LGBT community, almost to the point of being proud of it. This month, we’re happy to report that another one of our county’s Christian colleges is trying to be the friendliest college towards members of the LGBT community.
Located about 20 miles west of Chicago in the suburb that gives the school its name, Elmhurst College is a liberal-arts school with affiliations to the United Church of Christ, which is also welcomes LGBT parishioners to its flock. The college made news recently because of a new question that will be added to the school’s application forms for the 2012-13 school year: “Would you consider yourself to be a part of the LGBT community?” At first glance, you might be thinking the same thing that I was: are they doing this so they can discriminate during their application process? But Gary Rold, dean of admissions at Elmhurst, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the question was added to insure that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered individuals would know that the school is a welcoming environment to all students, as well as to identify those that may be eligible for scholarships offered to under-represented students.
While Elmhurst College is the first university in the country to ask such a direct question in during the application process, other schools have asked applicants to voluntarily identify themselves with issues that interest them, including “gender identity” and “LGBT community” as potential answers. The question on the Elmhurst College application would also be completely voluntary. The Common Application, a form used by over 450 colleges nationwide, rejected a proposal last year to include similar language on their “universal” college application form.
I’m sure the university will face backlash from members of the surrounding conservative communities, but we applaud Elmhurst College for aspiring to be an accepting environment for all students, and for promoting diversity by taking a proactive approach to creating a more welcoming society.