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Elmhurst College first to poll LGBT applicants
News update posted Aug. 25, 2011
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times

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It may come as a surprise to many that not even the most progressive colleges ask applicants about their sexual orientation. But all of that could change thanks to a decision by Elmhurst College admissions to become the first.

The Illinois liberal arts school is directly asking applicants if they are LGBT, making them the first college the country to do so.

"It's part of our diversity goals," said Gary Rold, dean of admissions at Elmhurst. "It very much sits with the philosophy of the college."

The new LGBT questions, lumped into an "optional" section that includes other identity-based questions on the application, could also make many queer students eligible for new scholarships.

According to Rold, the college has a strong scholarship program already, but LGBT students will now be eligible for the school's Enrichment Scholarship. That scholarship, offered to minority students, slashes the tuition price tag by a third.

Rold said the decision was made early in the year when counselors decided that LGBT applicants should be offered LGBT resources in the same way that other minority applicants are.

"We said, 'we don't know who those students are,'" said Rold. "It seemed like the logical thing to do."

Rold said the school looked at other LGBT-friendly schools for guidance but found that none offered such a question on the application.

So far, Rold said, his office has only received positive feedback on the move. The administration has also been in support, he said.

"Elmhurst admissions is not operating in a vacuum here," he said.

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