By EDDIE MIKUS
Fordham students often go out of their way to attempt to make all community members feel welcome at the university. One example of such a student is Jeff Lockhart, FCRH ’13, who is conducting a survey that he calls Que(e)ry, which seeks to gather information about the experience of gender and sexual minorities on Fordham’s campus. The name Que(e)ry is a pun on the word “queer,” a specific designation for sexual orientation.
“Our goal is to better understand the experiences of LGBTQ (lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and queer) students here at Fordham University,” Lockhart said. “There’s not a lot of data about that out there, but what little data does exist suggests that that we are at risk for a lot of specific challenges and difficulties that other students don’t face.”
Lockhart clarified that he uses the term “sexual and gender minorities” in the survey itself instead of “LGBTQ”.
According to Lockhart, another intent of the survey is to shed some light on issues that are specific to the population of sexual and gender minorities.
“Straight people don’t face sexuality discrimination,” Lockhart said. “Gender-normative people don’t face gender discrimination. And so there’s a lot of speculation about what the effects of that might be, and the study aims to sort of capture that.”
Lockhart encouraged all Fordham students who are sexual and gender minorities to participate in the survey, which can be accessed through fordhamqueery.org.
While any student can access the website, potential participants must provide a valid Fordham email address to take part in the survey.
In addition, Lockhart discussed some of the responses that the survey has already received. He said that these responses have provided multiple perspectives on the life of Fordham sexual and gender minority students.
“On seriously every question we’ve asked, different people are giving us wildly different experiences,” Lockhart said. “Some people have really great times with some things; some people have really terrible times with those things, and so on and so forth.”
Lockhart also talked about the uniqueness of the LGBTQ students. “It’s interesting to note that there’s not one universal experience that everyone who’s not straight or not gender-normative has,” Lockhart said.
When asked what he intended to achieve through the survey, Lockhart spoke about how his project could be used by colleges to enhance the experience of sexual and gender minorities.
“There’s a small but growing set of research nationally about the experiences of sexual and gender minority college students,” Lockhart said. “This research is used by all kinds of people, in student affairs, in academics, in admissions, in student groups and organizing. There is just a lot of people out there looking for information on what it’s like to be an LGBTQ college student.”
The relative lack of data on the issue of sexual and gender minority college students was one of the factors that inspired Lockhart to start the Que(e)ry survey, which is an independent research survey not connected to a specific class.
“About ten months ago, I was looking for information on the experiences of LGBTQ college students,” Lockhart, an aspiring professor, said, “and there just really isn’t very much information at all, and it was really frustrating. And so I was complaining to one of my friends and they were like, ‘You’re an academic, just make the data;’ and it occurred to me that I could. If I dedicated a large portion of my free time to a project like this, I could produce data that would help other people and sort of fill the gap that I had only been idly complaining about.”
Lockhart stated that various groups at Fordham such as the Dean’s office, Safety and Security, the Office of Residential Life, PRIDE Alliance and United Student Government (among others) would be interested in the research when the survey is completed.