Harvard hires to 'address needs of the LGBTQ+ community'

Harvard University will hire a paid fellow to assist with outreach to the LGBT community in the spring 2019 semester.

The decision comes after years of requests by student groups to allocate more resources to making LGBT students feel more welcome on campus, according to The Harvard Crimson. Harvard has not yet disclosed the “BGLTQ” fellowship’s salary.

Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences made the choice to hire such a fellow following the decisions of other prestigious American institutions, including, Yale, Brown, MIT, and Princeton, to hire fellows with similar objectives. 

An LGBTQ student group at the graduate school advocated for the recruitment of the fellow.

“Year after year, we have been telling administrators that LGBTQ people need better supports,” LGBTQ@GSAS asserted in a statement posted to its Facebook page in April. “Among other things, we have been requesting that Harvard fund a staff person to address the needs of the LGBTQ+ community, as other universities do as a matter of course. Every year they refuse, claiming a flat budget.” 

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“The Office for Diversity and Minority Affairs offers some monetary support to LGBTQ@GSAS, a model which relies on unpaid, volunteer student labor and initiative, and costs a fraction of what a full-time position for a staff person would,” the group continued.

In April, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ Office of Diversity and Minority Affairs hired its first two paid “diversity fellows,” The Crimson reported. Ph.D. students Alyssa M. Hernandez and Alfredo M. Valencia, who currently serve in these capacities, applied for the positions as a way “to make underrepresented minorities feel more welcome on Harvard’s campus.”

Hernandez and Valencia also indicated, after speaking with prospective students at several visiting events, that they would focus on the sense of “imposter syndrome” associated with admission to Harvard as a minority. 

“There’s such a reputation, and it’s intimidating,” Hernandez told The Crimson. “Graduate students talk a lot about impostor syndrome and feeling like they didn’t deserve to get in. We want to make Harvard more welcoming to students of color.” 

He also indicated that the addition of a third diversity fellow will help GSAS “better serve” LGBTQ students.

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Harvard did not respond to a request for comment regarding the salary of the LGBT fellow position or the two diversity fellow positions currently filled by Hernandez and Valencia. But Harvard fellows are typically paid “between $55,000 and $70,000 per year depending on experience and the nature of each Fellowship assignment,” according to the school’s human resources site.

The page also states that “fellowships are eligible for the Harvard University benefits package and this includes vacation time and available health, vision, and dental insurance.”

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