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Campus Pride hits Chicago to recruit LGBT students for college

Updated: November 10, 2011 3:36PM



Representatives from 29 colleges and universities will gather Saturday in Chicago with a message for prospective students: We know you’re gay, and we want you to study here.

The Campus Pride College Fair, an annual fixture in New York City and Los Angeles, is specifically geared for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender high school students. Schools ranging from Big Ten universities to small liberal arts schools are sending representatives to the fair at Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted. Their participation is a sign of the growing interest in recruiting openly gay students to campus.

The fair also offers workshops for students on scholarships, student activism and what to look for in a gay-friendly campus.

“We want to create an environment where LGBT students come in and ask questions they may not feel comfortable asking at a regular college fair,” said Jacob Kosior, the center’s director of special events and volunteers.

In other cities, the fairs also have become popular with same-sex parents sending their children off to college, said Shane Windmeyer, president of Campus Pride, the national nonprofit group that has organized the events around the country the last five years.

“It’s becoming more and more true that this isn’t just about LGBT youth but youth who have LGBT family members,” Windmeyer said. “They want their families to be part of” the college experience.

More than 100 students are expected, including several Evanston Township High School students who are interested in scholarship opportunities, said Bill Farmer, a science teacher and the school’s Gay Straight Alliance adviser.

“It’s useful for students to have that option, especially high school students,” he said. “I would imagine parents find this very reassuring. That way they know [the schools] are going to be supportive.”

Knox College in Downstate Galesburg is sending an admissions department representative with the message “if you’re a bright, motivated and academically talented student and you’re looking for a college that embraces the LGBT community, take a look at Knox,” said Paul Steenis, the school’s dean of admission.

Emory University is sending members of its LGBT alumni group to the fair, said Scott Allen, senior associate dean of admission.

Northern Illinois University is sending representatives from its LGBT resource center.



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