Emory Report
April 25, 2005
Volume 58, Number 28


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April 25, 2005
LGBT blends new with old at April meeting

BY eric rangus

At its April 19 meeting in 400 Administration, the President’s Commission on LGBT Concerns blended the new with a review—welcoming new members and going over its accomplishments during the 2004–05 academic year.

Improved communication has been an ongoing theme of this year’s commission. From strengthening its relationship with President Jim Wagner, which Chair Cathi Wentworth listed as one of the commission’s major accomplishments, to simply asking new members to explain their individual motivations for joining the commission, communication came up frequently as a subject of conversation.

Several other accomplishments Wentworth listed involved outreach and more communication. They included two recent community lunch forums where attendees could air concerns; a holiday gala featuring Wagner and attended by more than 75 LGBT community members; co-sponsorship with Human Resources of a now-annual information session on domestic partner benefits; new information tables at freshman orientation and the upcoming Staff Fest; an intensified membership drive that led to a nearly 50 percent increase in applications for the 2005–06 commission; and intense work to educate the community during the November election concerning the Georgia constitutional amendment that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Still, despite all these efforts, Wentworth said, the commission’s work is only beginning. “It’s great that people are hearing about who the commission is,” she said. “Now we have to talk about what the commission does.”

The results of the Campus Climate Survey were distributed and commission members were encouraged by the statistic that 90 percent of respondents who identified as LGBT (242 out of around 3,100 total) replied positively regarding the importance of valuing diversity on campus.

While the survey results soon will be communicated to the entire campus, the commission decided to focus its efforts on the responses of the 242 LGBT respondents. Wentworth said it was possible to break up the statistics to accomplish this.

Leading new business, the commission held officer elections for 2005–06. Andy Wilson from Campus Life and Paige Parvin from Development and University Relations were elected as co-chairs-elect. LGBT’s bylaws state that chairs (and, therefore, chairs-elect) must rotate on a male-female basis. The current chair-elect is male, so the bylaws were suspended—which does not require a two-meeting discussion, as changing them would—allowing for Wilson’s election. Jaclyn Barberow, a junior in Emory College, was elected secretary, and Rebeca Quintana from the Institute for Comparative and International Studies was re-elected treasurer.

Ex officio member Saralyn Chesnut said a new LGBT alumni organization, known as the Alumni Affinity Group, will hold its first event during Emory Weekend on Sunday, May 15. The $10 brunch in the Math & Science Center atrium will be open to all Emory LGBT alumni.

This is the final LGBT meeting of the academic year. The commission’s first meeting of 2005–06 will be in September.

If you have a question or comment for LGBT, send e-mail to Chair Cathi Wentworth at cwentwo@learnlink.emory.edu.