The LGBTQ+ Center started a mentoring program in 2018 as a way for LGBTQ students at IU to help incoming LGBTQ freshmen navigate their first semester of school.
Senior Noah Shore came up with the concept in fall 2017. He said he wanted to give new students a way to get involved on campus and learn about resources at the LGBTQ+ Culture Center without them having to make the first move.
“I know that when I was a freshman I could have really benefited from having that type of program,” he said. “And I was surprised the university didn’t currently offer it.”
Shore said the program aims to ease both student and guardian concerns about entering college and to provide a community for LGBTQ students.
“We can kind of serve as their home away from home,” he said.
In addition to offering information on resources, Shore said the program also just gives incoming freshmen someone to talk about their thoughts and feelings with.
LGBTQ+ Culture Center Director Doug Bauder said a similar program once existed within the center, but it didn’t specifically target incoming students like this one does.
“Coming to a university is daunting enough,” he said. “But I think for people who identify as queer, even though they might know that IU has a good reputation of being queer-friendly, it’s still a little difficult to find their way around.”
IU junior Drew Fox mentored freshman Linh Dang. They met up, got food together and attended a few comedy shows on campus throughout the semester. The program also helped organize group events like ice skating.
Fox said the more he was willing to open up as a mentor, the more Dang was willing to open up as his mentee.
“The relationship goes both ways,” Fox said. “Of course my mentee is learning from me, but I’m also learning from her at the same time.”
Fox said his relationship with Dang started as a mentor-mentee pairing where he helped her get involved and has graduated into more of a peer-to-peer friendship.
The program is accepting applications for mentors now until March 31, and applications for mentees will be accepted at a later date. Shore will graduate this year but will remain a part of the program, which he called his “baby.”
“A lot of things nowadays with the LGBTQ community are stepping stones to get to where we really want to be,” Fox said. “A lot of students need help finding even one person to get their foot in the door and meet somebody who’s part of that community and can help them.”
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