In a bold move, Elmhurst College, a small private school in Illinois, has done something novel and just -- include a question about identity on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity on their admission form. According to Campus Pride, Elmhurst College is the first U.S. institution to implement this demographic question.
Inside Higher Ed has covered this topic before in the form of the Common Application's unwillingness to evolve as quickly as cultural norms. Well, bravo to Elmhurst College for taking a stance that is monumental in its cultural impact. It will be interesting to see if other institutions follow Elmhurst's lead and add similar demographic questions to their admission forms.
The question ("Would you consider yourself to be a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community?") on Elmhurst's application is optional and it shares space with other optional questions that ask about "religious affiliation, languages other than English spoken at home and whether [students] have worked with a community-based organization in their college search process."
Zack Ford of Think Progress wrote a great post about how the decision by Elmhurst is linked to retention and academic success. While adding a question to an admissions application will not automatically create a better campus climate for LGBT students, it will have an impact if it becomes standard practice on higher education admission forms.
I realize that this post isn't directly related to "student affairs technology," but it does involve an admission application process which does involve technology. Besides, this is a big story for student affairs professionals. Admissions practitioners will definitely have some interesting conversations about the Elmhurst College admission application.
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