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Graduate student LGBT club creates welcoming atmosphere on campus

Published: Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 00:02

Cap

William Guerra

A new organization created to foster an accepting environment for LGBT graduate students, The LBGTQA Graduate Group of Texas A&M, was unofficially founded last semester and is on its way to becoming an official
A&M organization.

Jeremy Saenz, president of the group and counseling psychology graduate student, said the group was created to meet the needs of LGBT graduate students looking to socialize and relate to others in similar
life positions.

“With the graduate group a lot of times there are people who are older and they kind of have more professional mindsets to what they are studying,” Saenz said. “Our goals are more toward development and creating a warm climate and the advancement of graduate students along with welcoming more researchers who are LGBT aware into the Texas A&M
school system.”

Nick Barta, treasurer and public relations officer and materials science and engineering graduate student, said the group is attempting to challenge the perception of A&M
as “homophobic.”

“We want to make a more welcoming environment also since A&M is ranked as one of the most homophobic campuses,” Barta said “That’s one of the myths that we are trying to dispel from A&M because it is possible that it is something that could keep very good students from potentially looking at A&M as a possibility when something like
that is so false.”

Saenz said the group participates in and organizes philanthropic events, such as a clothing drive the group hosted last semester for an orphanage in Mexico.

Andrew Liao, materials science and engineering graduate student, said it is great that a graduate LGBT group is forming and believes their graduate student status will give them
increased credibility.

“I think it’s a good idea to have a LGBT graduate club,” Liao said. “Their philanthropic events not only help others but will increase awareness of the LGBT community at A&M. Since they are led by graduate students, I think that people will respect their efforts to educate others outside of their busy work and
research schedules.”

The group is attempting to begin a “welcoming committee,” in which group members would help prospective students get an idea of the atmosphere here at A&M,
Barta said.

“We are starting up a welcoming committee,” Barta said. “If there are GLBT students that are interested in going to A&M we can show them around and help them understand what they can expect on campus. We are helping to try and get rid of that stereotype, [to show] that [Aggies] have developed and [are] increasing
our visibility.”

Francesco de Dilectis, group member and aerospace engineering graduate student, came to Texas A&M from Italy and said he was apprehensive before he interacted with students on campus.

“This is my fourth year here at A&M and when I came over I was a bit worried because I had read the ranking when it came to LGBT friendliness [was] very low,” de Dilectis said. “In four years, I have never had any bad interaction with anybody in Bryan or College Station.”

The group has socials twice a month. For more information, those interested may check the group’s
Facebook page. 

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