Tulane adds optional sexual orientation question to Class of 2021 admissions applications

Ella Helmuth, Contributing Reporter

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Tulane Admissions is working to provide an inclusive environment for new students of all genders and sexual orientations. This year, in an effort to promote LGBTQQIA* acceptance, the freshman application has been updated to include an optional question about sexuality.

Admissions Director Jeff Schiffman says that he personally hopes that it will increase accessibility for applicants who are struggling with acceptance of their sexual orientation.

“For that one kid in rural Kansas that is dying to just be himself, when sees on a Tulane application that we even ask that, whether he chooses to answer it or not, it sends a signal to him that hey, if you do come here there are going to be people like you,” Schiffman said.

Answers to the question remain confidential except with The Office for Gender and Sexuality Diversity.

Director of the Office for Gender and Sexuality Diversity, Red Tremmel, hopes to use the information provided by the question to reach out to new students and provide them with the resources they need to thrive at Tulane.

“By giving incoming students the option to connect with resources before they arrive, we are able to address some of those fears and connect them with peer mentors, student organizations, and leadership opportunities,” Tremmel said. “Students who respond to the optional question will receive a letter the summer before they arrive that lets them know of the many resources on Tulane’s campus.”

Foster Noone, a Tulane junior, chair of the Gender and Sexuality Advisory Council on Undergraduate Student Government, and president of the Gender Exploration Society says that they and their community approve of the additional question.

“Students aren’t required to disclose this information, but if they do we then have the opportunity to tailor resources to send to that group of students,” Noone said. “Being new to Tulane and queer and trans, particularly for transgender students and queer and trans students of color, can be so alienating and scary.”

They say it’s important to be able to reach out to new LGBTQQIA* students in a confidential way which allows them to feel safe and accepted in their new environment.

Noone said that disclosing one’s sexual orientation can be a powerful thing for members of the LGBTQIA community.

“For me, self-love looks like being open about my queer and trans identities,” Noone said. “For others, that information is private and that’s just as valid. We owe no one that information, but disclosing can be an action that holds power.”

The question is a part of the supplement to the common application, and the main Tulane application. It has already gone live on the Class of 2021’s application, and will be used for programming and connecting by The Office for Gender and Sexual Diversity in the 2017-18 school year.