GLBT students praise U tolerance

Like many other students, Erik Adolphson did his research before coming to the University.

Now president of the University’s gay fraternity, Delta Lambda Phi, Adolphson said the University is a very tolerant campus.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students said the University is a relatively safe place but still want increased awareness of GLBT issues.

That is why greater visibility is the highest priority this year for the University’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Programs Office, director B. David Galt said.

Increased visibility would bring more acceptance of GLBT students, Galt said.

Since 1969, the University has implemented policies aimed at improving the social climate for GLBT students, Galt said. The University was first in the nation to offer domestic partnership benefits to employees and students. In addition, the GLBT programs office and the Schochet Center offers a number of grants and scholarships.

Adolphson said these were deciding factors that led him to turn down a full-ride scholarship to St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., in favor of the University.

“The ‘U’ has a very liberal and friendly climate which respects the individuality of all people,” Adolphson said. “The programs office and the (Queer Student Cultural Center) are necessary because GLBT students have a long way to go before they are guaranteed equal rights and protections under the law.”

While the GLBT programs office works more formally within the University, the student cultural center offers a place in Coffman Union where students can come to socialize and become involved in activities and groups.

Every year, GLBT groups, on campus host a variety of events, including drag shows, a new student orientation and the Lavender Graduation and Awards Ceremony.

Resources such as the student center and programs office enticed third-year student Dan Waldron to the University.

“The University is a comfortable space where people can be out and gay,” Waldron said. He considered attending other universities, but found the Twin Cities campus has a large GLBT community where he feels safe.

Waldron said he does not feel a separation between the GLBT community and the University community as a whole.

“We all come together to form one community,” he said.