What Can An International Student Orientation Program Do?

Susan Carty, Indiana University

  1. Reprint the university’s non-discrimination statement or a diversity statement in written materials so that new students know that your campus is a ‘safe’ and inclusive place.
  2. If you have a LGBTQ center on campus, make their flyer visibly available at the orientation program as a subtle message that your office is ‘gay-friendly’. Other materials may serve the same purpose – Safe Zone stickers, rainbow flag, NAMES Project poster, etc.
  3. Include a reference regarding sexual orientation in written materials relating to diversity and/or personal relationships.
  4. Include definitions of terms, such as homosexual, lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, etc., in orientation packets along with definitions of other terms that may be unfamiliar.
  5. Prepare a special brochure, addressed to international students, that provides definitions and answers some frequently asked questions. See University of Oregon brochure, “Homosexuality: A U.S. Perspective for International Students”.
  6. Acquire a bibliography and/or other materials (guidebooks, articles, etc.) about the LGBTQ experience in the United States.
  7. Collect information from international students about campus climate relative to LGBTQ issues. This could be accomplished through a simple, anonymous survey of current students.
  8. Include AIDS information literature and testing information along with other health-related materials in simplified English. See Indiana University’s “What You Should Know About AIDS” flyer.
  9. If you have an International LGBTQ student organization on campus, ask them to assist with orientation programming and to be available to meet individually with new students who have questions. Returning students will have a much closer perspective to what it is like to be a double minority (foreign and LGBTQ) on campus.
  10. Offer or arrange for inclusive diversity training for all of your orientation staff.
  11. Identify other campus or community resources (LGBTQ office, diversity office, student groups, health center, etc.) and make contact information available to students.
  12. Provide lists of Web resource sites.