The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

DePaul’s LGBTQA Services begins ‘Queer Peer’ mentorship program next fall

DePaul University’s LGBTQA Student Services is starting a new mentor program called Queer Peers that will begin Fall Quarter of 2014.

Queer Peers is a new program where interested students will be paired up with a student mentor for the duration of one academic year. The mentor will meet with their mentee at least once a month, and provide support and help to the mentees if and when they need it. Mentors will also have to take part in two separate meetings with other mentors during the year.

LGBTQA Student Services Coordinator Katy Weseman expanded on the program.

“It’s not just limited to freshmen,” Weseman said. “It [Queer Peers] is open to those who are new to DePaul, those who have recently come out, and really just anyone who goes to DePaul…even grad students can do it.”

While the mentee position is open to almost anyone at DePaul, there are specific qualifications a student must have before applying to be a Queer Peer mentor.

The potential mentor must be in either a sophomore or higher academic standing during the year they are mentoring. They must be in good academic standing at DePaul, and belong to or have extensive knowledge of the LGBTQA community at DePaul.

Ashley Valentin, a junior at DePaul, helps with the LGBTQA Student Services and will be one of two student coordinators for the program.

“They [mentors], like most leaders, should mainly be aware,” Valentin said. “They should have the ability to understand their own identity.”

Weseman said that what motivated the LGBTQA Student Services to create the program in the first place was the ability for LGBTQA students to have an additional way to reach out to their office and to peers.

“We wanted to create more points of connection to the students, with a more 1-on-1 relationship,” Weseman said.

The LGBTQA Student Services are expecting the Queer Peers mentorship to grow and positively affect the LBGTQA community, in addition to the office’s three existing groups: Trans*(formation) DePaul, Act OUT, and Spectrum DePaul.

Spectrum DePaul’s president, Daniel Olsen, has high hopes for the program.

“I learned about it like three weeks ago and it seems like a great idea, especially having someone there to talk to,” Olsen said. “I think right now there’s more of an interest in mentors. People are already applying and it’s great.”

While some may see the program as a way to potentially segregate the LGBTQA community further, Weseman looks at the issue differently.

“The difference [between LGBTQA and non-LGBTQA] will always exist. There has been a history,” Weseman said. “It’s simplistic to say we don’t need to have these programs, knowing some students still don’t feel as supported. Our main goal is to provide opportunities. It’s not a requirement.”

Valentin agrees with Weseman’s perspective. “It’s another option from the clubs we already have,” she said. “Spectrum is more of a group setting, and sometimes kids don’t feel comfortable with that. They sometimes need separation to figure themselves out, and can feel pressured.”

The mentor application deadline for the next academic year is Feb. 21, and individual interviews will begin in March. Students will be able to sign up as mentees during the summer of 2014.

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