Grad Student Revitalizes “You are Welcome Here” Campaign

by Amy Marcott on December 10, 2010 · 0 comments

in Campus Culture, Student Life

Jimena Almendares Dorantes

"The more I worked on the campaign, the more inspired I was with the testimonies of students, staff, and professors describing what the campaign meant to them," Jimena Almendares Dorantes (above) told News@MIT Sloan. Image: Sarah Foote.

It used to be that every year, MIT employees would receive postcards with a rainbow and the words “You are Welcome Here, LBGT@ MIT” to hang in office spaces to show support for the lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender communities on campus. In recent years, the campaign somehow lost visibility and momentum and new postcards weren’t printed for new members of the MIT community to display.

In the wake of many tragic and highly publicized incidents of bullying and suicides of gay youth, one MIT Sloan student decided to create a more welcoming campus environment by relaunching the campaign. Jimena Almendares Dorantes MBA ’11 organized some 20 other MIT students to promote openness and diversity at MIT and to send the message that members of MIT’s LBGT community are not alone.

Dorantes and the students worked with MIT’s Rainbow Lounge (Walker Memorial, 50-005), the home of MIT’s LBGT student groups that is staffed by professionals from the Division of Student Life, MIT Medical, and the Office of Minority Education, as well as faculty and alumni.

You are Welcome Here postcard

"By creating a new image that featured more than the acronym LBGT, we felt that we could reach out to a larger population," Dorantes told News@MIT Sloan.

This year, for the first time ever, postcards were mailed to 7,000 residential students in addition to the standard audience of 12,000 faculty and staff. A letter from President Hockfield explaining the importance of the campaign accompanied the postcard.

There’s a great article featuring Dorantes’s efforts in News@MIT Sloan (Dec. 6 edition). Read the pdf.

The campaign asks MIT faculty and staff to consider posting the “You are Welcome Here” sign in a visible location, which affirms that they:

  1. Will avoid heterosexist assumptions, confront homophobia, and use inclusive language (“partner” or “spouse,” rather than “boyfriend” or “wife”);
  2. Believe that our campus is enriched by the inclusion of LBGT people; and
  3. Will refer individuals to lbgt@MIT and other appropriate resources.

Some of these resources include the You are Welcome Here website, which lists a host of campus, local, and national groups supporting LBGT efforts as well as other organizations committed to promoting diversity, and more. There’s also an LBGT@MIT e-newsletter.

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