Conference to help raise awareness of gay needs

By Brenden Walz

A conference will be held today to discuss the needs of gay and lesbian students at NIU and other colleges and universities across the country.

The Student Affairs Staff Development Committee and the Office of Student Housing Services will hold a teleconference titled “Understanding & Meeting the Needs of Gay and Lesbian Students” today from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. in the Holmes Student Center Capitol Room.

Donald Buckner, associate vice president for Student Affairs, said the conference is an interactive conference which will be sent by satellite to campuses throughout the country.

The forum will consist of a panel of administrators and human resources personnel who will discuss how universities can meet the needs of gay, lesbian and bisexual students. A phone will be made available for people to call in questions to the panel.

“It’s an attempt to raise awareness of anti-gay prejudice and harassment,” Buckner said.

Buckner said the issue of understanding the needs of gay and lesbian students is important for NIU.

“It’s an important issue for any community dealing with a diverse population such as NIU,” he said.

NIU is not free from gay bashing.

One incident occurred last year at NIU during April’s Gay Awareness Week, when an NIU senior filed a complaint after seeing a computer-printed poster in a residence hall window that said “Kill a faggot.”

“I think that the members of the Gay/Lesbian Union feel they have experienced a significant amount of prejudice,” said Buckner.

Kathy Hotelling, director of the Counseling and Student Development Center, said she hoped this conference would have the effect of reducing incidents of discrimination against gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

“In general, what happens to these students is not reported because of the risk to these students of identifying themselves as gay or lesbian,” Hotelling said.