The Georgetown University Student Association has partnered with the LGBTQ Resource Center to create an LGBTQ peer mentorship program. The program, which is scheduled to begin in fall 2014, will encourage underrepresented students in the LGBTQ community to assume leadership roles and get more involved in campus life while at Georgetown.
“On campus, there’s a disparity between certain populations and the number of people in those populations with leadership roles, so you see some groups unrepresented in clubs, club leadership roles, and we wanted to find a way to combat this,” GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) said. Tisa added that the mentorship program will encourage students to get involved in clubs and organizations by pairing upperclassmen mentors with underclassmen.
Mentors will meet with mentees in small group settings around campus. The Corp will provide two to three free coffee subsidies for each group, according to GUSA Secretary of Diversity Affairs Minjung Kang (SFS ’15).
“The upperclassmen have different perspectives and can provide advice for underclassmen who don’t have the opportunity to ask those kind of questions as just being a general member as part of an organization,” Kang said.
Kang said that GUSA hopes to provide a speaker in the fields of business and government.
“That will give the mentors and mentees an opportunity to interact with professionals and get more general advice about how the LGBTQ community is in different industries and how it’s like to be part of that community in a more professional environment,” Kang said.
The LGBTQ Resource Center has provided advice and resources as well as committing to provide training for future mentors.
“It’s been fantastic,” Tisa said. “They’ve been working on the curriculum, working on the training, to connect with resources that the LGBTQ Center already has. It’s one of the most well-known LGBTQ programs, certainly at a Catholic school, in the country, so it’s been really great to partner with them.”
LGBTQ Center Director Sivagami Subbaraman explained that the LGBTQ Resource Center helped GUSA to design the initiative, a welcome new feature of the Center’s programming.
“The Center worked with GUSA representatives to help develop guidelines on how to recruit mentors and mentees, and to provide some insight into [what] it might look like,” Subbaraman said.
Mentors will be chosen from a pool of applicants comprised of upperclassmen members of the LGBTQ community.
“We’re looking for people who are involved in all different aspects of campus life, not just GU Pride or even GUSA,” GUSA Undersecretary of LGBTQ Affairs Meghan Ferguson (COL ’15) said. “That way, potential mentees can find someone who shares similar interests with them and can actually act as a much better mentor.”
Applications for mentors are currently open, and mentee applications will be released in upcoming weeks. The program, slated to start next fall, will be a pilot program for other potential mentorship programs to come, according to Tisa.
“I think it’s really important for me personally, as the first gay president at Georgetown, to make it clear that I can’t be the last,” he said. “We really need to promote not only LGBTQ communities but also communities of color and women to take leadership roles at Georgetown because there’s still a disparity. … We want to demonstrate that anything is possible for a Georgetown student here, and that you don’t need to be held back because of socioeconomic or personal identity qualities.”