Affirmative Action, Redux

Word is out (of the closet?) that Middlebury admissions is now giving students who indentify themselves as “gay” an “attribute” flag on their applications, along the lines of ethnicity, athlete, and alumni flags. Essentially, Midd will be considering sexual orientation in its admissions decisions (one would hope that they would consider more than just gay because there are more options).

It’s a timely announcement seeing it is Coming Out of the Closet (COW) week at Midd as sponsored by the Middlebury Open Queer Alliance (MOQA). In fact, MOQA builds a closet each year and, this year, also built a cow (a cleaver play on the acronym of coming out fo the closet). The cow was stolen…

But it’s also interesting to see how Midd plays this one seeing as it hasn’t been active on the subject of sexual orientation in the past. Yes, the school received a “high gay point average” in a latest publishing of a college guide for LGBT students. But on issues of first-year rooming, for instance, Midd has shied away from giving students the option to declare their sexual orientation.

In a recent chat with a MOQA co-president, I gather that Middlebury has some weird things going on. There is definitely an openly gay population of the school. But that population is split between those that are involved in promoting the issues and those that want to be left alone. There is also faculty issues with those teachers that are out and those that aren’t. Coming from San Francisco, I don’t quite see the support network for LGBTQQ students or teachers which might be especially necessary because many other students here have not ever dealt with those issues directly. Then again, the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at my high school wasn’t particularly active but at the same time people were much better educated and accepting of the subject.

Ultimately, I disapprove of Midd adding this attribute flag because I don’t think it’s necessary in order to attract a more diverse student population. i think Midd needs to build its program from the inside out starting with the current population of students and faculty. By working on the internal culture, over time, the school will attract students of non hetero-sexual orientation.

UPDATE: The school newspaper, the Campus, is reporting that Middlebury admissions is entirely denying InsideHigherEd’s report earlier this week that Midd is “flagging” gay student applicants. The newspaper does report that Midd revamped their academic rating system to account for more “intangibles” including the “passion for learning.” Stay tuned as this pans out…