Kiss and tell
Universities should not ask about studentsí sexual orientation without good reason
In the wake of a proposal which first made waves in January, the University of California system is moving forward with the idea of asking the sexual orientation of its incoming students. California is of course the leftmost state geographically, and almost as far left politically. But we in Virginia find things less sunny and not just because of our being to their right. Regardless of sexual orientation, all points on the map should see this is a plan heading the wrong direction.
The UC system is admittedly under pressure from the state government of California, which requires them to collect information about students' sexual orientation. And knowing such information about incoming students could help the universities provide resources, officials said. As paraphrased by ABC News, Chair of the UC Academic Senate Robert Anderson said "The question will not be asked on applications to the schools because students may feel uncomfortable filling out the forms in front of their parents." Because everyone knows what you do not feel comfortable telling mom and dad you'll tell a big brother.
It is unclear how exactly such information would be used; a question about sexual orientation could be prejudicial if applied incorrectly, and if unused seems unnecessary. The architects of the UC plan have therefore plotted their intentions without laying out the consequences.
One blueprint example, to which we draw their attention, is housing. As ABC News writes, "Anderson was not sure whether the information would factor into roommate assignment decisions for incoming freshmen." We are sure, however, applying this information to the roommate ordeal would make things even messier. One possibility they should definitely avoid is segregating housing based on sexual orientation. For gay and straight students to be housed apart would be a textbook formulation of separate but equal. This does not mean rooms should not be disturbed, but it would be more hospitable for colleges to knock down the door of antiquated same-sex dorm rooms.
Unlike Elmhurst College in Illinois, which last year was the first college to include the orientation question on its application, the UC system has not yet broken the seal on its forms. Elmhust College raises another question: whether classifying sexual orientation should be a part of the admissions process. But colleges should not ask such a question without spelling out the fine print and consequences. Once posed, questions about sexual orientation cannot be avoided, as skipping says something and even "Questioning" is an answer.
There should undoubtedly be a welcoming atmosphere for LGBTQ students at universities, but the decision of how they come out should be made at their discretion. Regardless of sexual orientation, students should be accepted everywhere, but only admitted to the universities they are qualified for academically. Until then, incoming students of whatever orientation should follow the gay Oscar Wilde who knew, "I have nothing to declare but my genius"