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NDSU Program Matches LGBT Students and Allies in Dorms - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

NDSU Program Matches LGBT Students and Allies in Dorms

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The next generation of NDSU students will be arriving shortly; and thanks to a new housing policy, some may be quick to call it home.

For the first time, the university is working to match roommates who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender together or with an LGBT ally.

The hope is that the program will serve more students every year. The number of students identifying at LGBT is growing in colleges around the United State. That could be for programs like these, helping them find an environment in which to come out.

"Sometimes, in the comfort of your own room, a student may not feel comfortable with their roommate," Kara Gravley-Stack, LGBTQ Programs Coordinator at NDSU, said.

That first year of college can be a pivotal time.

"Most of us, when we go to college, if we don't identify as LGBT, we don't have that concern. We just feel like we can be who we are," she said.

For about 7-percent of this campus, that year starts with the first step through the door.

This year, about a dozen incoming students will start off on the right foot.

"They can shift their focus from being LGBT to being an academic student here and doing well in their classes."

That's Kara's hope, that with a system she helped design, fewer students will face the hostility in their dorm rooms she's spent more than a decade working to erase. Though, the university has never before used a system like this for any student.

"I wouldn't see it as favoritism for a particular group. I would see it as trying to be proactive to address the needs that we know students have," she said.

Kara says it's progress in academic success when the first foot lands in the right direction.

"I think by creating this environment that's supportive it really helps them to focus on what they came to college for, which is to get their education," Kara said.

The program isn't only for those students who identify as LGBT. It's for anyone who wants to support those students. Organizers say those students have also jumped on board with the program, even requesting to change rooms to be an ally to a student in need.

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