Office of the President

Meetings: 2003 (5.12) | The President’s Commission for LGBT Issues

Meeting Minutes for Monday, May 12, 2003

Attending: Paul Dillon, Vicky Foxworth, Deb Grander, Elizabeth Hagovsky, Jim Harris, Luke Jensen, Karen Kimmel, Marilee Lindemann, Nichole Maiman, Raul Medina, Martha Nell Smith, name undisclosed, Mark Brimhall Vargas, Rob Waters, Nancy Yeroshefsky

  1. Approval of Minutes
    The Commission approved the minutes from the March 2003 meeting.
  2. Updates
    • Guidelines - Vicky announced that the Guidelines, along with Safe Space cards, were sent to the "3 Ds." She acknowledged that it was an awkward time to disseminate such information given budget considerations, however Drs. Mote and Destler will address the Guidelines during department meetings in the Fall of 2003.
    • U of MD LGBT System Meeting - Luke relayed topics from the April 18th meeting, including his discussion with MD government officials (MacIntosh and Madaleno) on hate crimes, the encouragement of "LGBT" course prefixes, domestic partner benefits, and creating a system-wide inclusion of "gender identity or gender expression" in human relations codes.
    • LGBT Studies Program Speakers Series - Marilee was very pleased with the Series' success, and announced that there will be webstreams of the presentations on the LGBT Studies website. While the department looks to plan another series for Spring 2004, it will need to be on a smaller scale due to budget concerns. She encouraged the Commission to submit to her any ideas for next year's program.
    • Pride Days - Elizabeth said that Pride Days went very well overall, with many more participants than ever before. The Trans Bathroom Project event was well-attended, and present was Dan Spade, an attorney who helps raise consciousness about not only the legal, but moral implications surrounding this issue.
    • Faculty/Staff Climate Study - After the March meeting raised many new issues on this topic, Vicky decided to re-examine this study. She will meet with Rob, Luke, Wallace Eddy, and Laura Scott later in the week to discuss the project's scope, client, agency (CAWG or PCN), and methodology.
    • Other Updates -
      • Luke urged all Commission members to examine the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Annual Report, as they have compiled a national study of the LGBT student populations on college campuses.

        5/22 - Lavender Graduation (please contact Luke to R.S.V.P.)

        5/25 - UM will have a booth at the Black Lesbian and Gay convention (Washington Convention Center)

        6/8 - Capitol Pride (Pennsylvania Ave.)

    • Deb stated that the Department of Residence Life is creating a pamphlet addressing hate crime issues. Currently in its draft stages, the pamphlet will be used as a resource tool for students and RAs.
  3. CAWG Student Climate Study
    Vicky welcomed Sharon LaVoy and Sarah Ranck from CAWG to discuss LGB issues from the Campus Climate Study.

    Sarah first gave the Commission some background on the study's origins and scope. Commissioned by the President's Cabinet, the study included undergraduates of various racial/ethnic, gender, and sexual identities, and CAWG established an advisory group made of campus experts in these areas. The study's goal was to gather practical information on the above group climates for use in campus planning and decision-making.

    During the Spring of 2002, CAWG and the Office of Organizational Effectiveness conducted 21 focus groups, whose more than 150 undergraduates were based on different criteria: randomly selected of mixed race and gender, randomly selected and sharing one aspect of identity (LGB student group was created from volunteers only), and invited based on involvement in campus organizations. LGB students were primarily recruited through word-of-mouth (e-mail listservs, fliers/announcements in LGBT-oriented classes, campus organizations). Transgender undergraduates were not included in the study due to the inability to recruit an adequate number of students. The focus group transcripts were finally analyzed to identify themes, and CAWG created the report that was reviewed and approved by the advisory board and Cabinet.

    Sharon then discussed the study's LGB findings. Most participating students (including non-LGB) expressed LGB issues as their main climate concern, with non-LGB students sharing similar perceptions as their LGB peers. LGB students reported varying experiences in terms of comfort and acceptance, including a difficulty in finding and forming connections with other LGB students. While there were positive comments regarding existing campus resources and support for LGB students, most agreed that their numbers needed to increase; students held the perception that support for LGB issues was lower than that of other diversity groups.

    Students offered a variety of suggestions to the administration to improve the LGB campus climate:

    • Increase attention to and services for the LGB population Expand the use and visibility of Safe Space cards (including faculty and offices with student contact) Offer more courses addressing sexual orientation Help establish connections between student populations (e.g., create more student groups, allocate space for students to congregate) Increase LGB awareness with campus-sponsored events Treat sexual identity diversity with equal attention as other aspects of diversity Faculty and staff should attend diversity training workshops to better interact with students Faculty should choose diverse groups when assigning group projects
    • Work with the City of College Park to make it more appealing to a diverse student body.

    Sharon then asked Commission members for their feedback. Luke inquired as to the Cabinet's response, and Rob assured him that they are creating an implementation plan for summer and early fall that would concentrate on these issues/suggestions. Luke also suggested UM's 1996 "Embracing Diversity" report as a blueprint for dealing with today's issues. By studying that report, along with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force report, the Council for Advocacy in Higher Education reports, etc., may help create a succinct and detailed new blueprint for the next 5-10 years.

    Vicky would like to invite J. Dennis O'Connor (VP for Research and Dean of the Graduate School), along with Jason Pontius (Campus Programs - Graduate Student Resources), to discuss their research on these issues from a graduate student perspective.

  4. Thank You and Conclusion
    Vicky thanked all Commission members for their hard work this year. The Commission will not meet over the summer months, however she will be in touch regarding meeting times for the fall.