Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois has become the first college in the country to ask applicants about their sexual orientation. From the Chicago Sun-Times:
“Increasing diversity is part of our mission statement,” said Gary Rold, Elmhurst’s dean of admissions. “This is simply closing the loop, in many ways, of another group who has a very strong identity. It may not be race and religion but it’s an important part of who they are.”
The question will appear on applications for those freshman and transfer students hoping to start in the fall of 2012. Like admissions questions about race, ethnicity or religion, answering the question is completely optional and does not affect admission decisions. Students can check “yes,” “no,” or “prefer not to answer.”
Those who answer “yes” may be eligible for a scholarship worth up to one-third of tuition, not unusual because about 60 percent of incoming students receive some type of scholarship aid, Rold said. More importantly, he said, knowing students’ sexual orientation will help officials direct incoming students toward services or groups that might help them make an easier transition to college life.