For the 12th year in a row, a portion of the Trinitonian was purchased to welcome students to campus who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Originally designed by Richard Reams, associate director of counseling services, the advertisement has since been sponsored by Campus and Community Involvement. The listing, which includes the names of contributing and supportive faculty and staff members, is being reconstructed from the ground up.
“It was originally a personal project, and I recruited faculty and staff,” Reams said. “It is just one of many ways we go about creating a welcoming atmosphere for new students.”
The ad was originally designed by Reams in 2003, who sought donations from faculty and staff members to help purchase the ad, and asked who would prefer their names be included in the advertisement. This same process was repeated every year, adding new names and removing those who had left campus, until 2009, when Reams was approached by CCI, which was interested in taking over sponsorship of the ad. In the first year, the ad listed 48 names; this year the listing includes over 250 names. This year, the list of supporters is being streamlined by allowing staff and faculty to denote their support by responding to an email.
“[The new form has] helped by eliminating the time to check the previous list and remove those who have left Trinity,” said Soisouda Smith, coordinator for diversity and intercultural relations. “It is hard to keep track of those who leave and those who change departments.”
Once faculty and staff designate that they would like to be included on the listing, they can elect to donate money to help fund the advertisement.
The funding for the ad comes from donations and contributions from CCI. Of the 250 supporters, 10 percent contribute money to pay for the ad. CCI plans to seek more contributions in the future.
Responses to the advertisement have been largely positive, with alumni contacting the university to express their pride at seeing the welcome advertisement. In addition to individual contacts and expressions of appreciation, Reams conducts a campus climate survey every few years regarding the social climate for LGBT students. His most recent survey, conducted last year, showed that 85 percent of Trinity LGBT students feel somewhat or very welcomed on campus, and 75 percent of students reported encountering positive attitudes from other students on campus.
“Any effort that the university, the staff or the students make to show this [support] to the student body as a whole is a fantastic idea,” said Dan Farris, president of Sexual Diversity Alliance. “I’m excited there is an ad being used to advertise how open Trinity is.”