In another milestone for the LGBT community, the University of Iowa has announced that its admission application will now include the option to self-identify as an LGBT student. Along with the other demographics questions of ethnicity and extracurricular interests, applicants will now see an optional line asking “Do you identify with the LGBTQ community?”, and including “Transgender” as a gender option.
It may seem like a small question, but it has already had a big impact. While the University of Iowa is not the first to give this option to applicants — Elmherst College holds that distinction — it is the first public university to do so, and has set an example for schools around the country. Says Shane Windmeyer of Campus Pride, “This is a huge deal in that it shows any campus that it can do the same thing.”
Current LGBT students of Iowa are just as pleased. Quentin Hill, chair of the primary group representing LGBT interests on campus, called the move “phenomenal.” Jake Christensen, the admissions counselor who started the process, says that by changing the application “we are telling people that this is a place with respect for all kinds of students.”
The new University of Iowa standard is made even more important by the Common Application — used by over 400 colleges — refusing to implement similar changes early last year. Even so, more universities are beginning to open up to the idea of being open, with the University of California and California State systems expected to change their application policy next year.