Applicants may soon see a new question inquiring about sexual orientation on Cornell’s supplement to the Common Application.
The change comes in response to complaints concerning the lack of demographic data on the LGBTQ+ population at Cornell available to the LGBT Resource Center. The Student Assembly voted to add questions on students’ sexual orientations to the Common Application and will send the resolution to the administration for a final decision.
The resolution, which is titled Collecting LGBTQ+ Demographic Data, proposes adding two optional questions, specifically regarding a student’s gender identity and sexual orientation.
This resolution, which was voted down last year in the face of questions about how such a questionnaire would be distributed, was represented this year with the addition that the questions be added to the Common Application. The resolution also noted the possibility of expanding these inquiries to other applications.
This new initiative would “allow the administration to analyze grade retention for LGBTQ+ students which we currently do not have, although other status groups do,” said Phillip Titcomb ’17.
Robert Dunbar ’18 and other members of the Student Assembly raised concerns that the demographic data would be used as a way to implement affirmative action policies.
“This has been brought up within administration, however admissions officers have pointed out that many students self-report their gender identity or sexual orientation in other supplemental admission materials as well,” Titcomb said.
According to the 2014 Hurtado Report, many queer-identifying students, especially trans* students and queer students of color, face social and academic exclusion at Cornell. The Association of American Universities also reported that 29 percent of non-heterosexual females and 11 percent of non-heterosexual males experience non-consensual sexual conduct as compared to the 22 percent and 5 percent of the heterosexual populations, respectively.
The LGBT Resource Center said they are currently unable to contact incoming students to create the networks necessary to support such students. Through this resolution, the S.A. hopes not only make such resources more accessible, but also further promote inclusivity on campus, according to Titcomb.
The resolution was passed 18-0-3 with two community votes counted in favor.