GLBTA to hold student focus groups
Posted March 29, 2010 at 10:38 pm in News
The LGBT and Allies community will conduct focus groups for undergraduates Tuesday and Wednesday evening in an effort to improve its resources and services on campus.
âWeâre trying to find strategies to truly reflect what students want so we can move forward every academic school year,â said Vincent Vigil, director of the USC Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center.
The focus groups are part of a two-tier approach to obtaining feedback on LGBT resources. The first step was a 17-question LGBT perception survey, available at the resource centerâs website for faculty, staff and students.
The events are a joint effort between the LGBT Resource Center, a department of student affairs, and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Assembly, a student-run organization that is part of Program Board.
Vigil introduced the idea of focus groups in 2007 as a way to better represent studentsâ opinions and perceptions of the LGBT community. Vigil emphasized that the organizers are interested in ideas from both students who are part of the LGBT community and students who are not.
âThe only way to stay at the cutting edge of what students want is to hear directly from them,â he said.
The focus groups will be moderated by a graduate student and will include a tape recorder and a student note taker. Participants, who will not be asked their name or year, will answer questions about their experience with LGBT events at USC. The questions range from how well-represented LGBT students feel to possible community outreach strategies.
âIâve been to five or so [focus groups], and itâs a really friendly environment,â said Joshua Morris, a junior majoring in psychology and the incoming assistant executive director for GLBTA. âItâs completely anonymous, so no oneâs afraid to speak out. Your name wonât be there, but your message will be heard.â
According to Vigil, student feedback from the focus groups has had tangible effects on LGBT events and organizations.
âLast year, students said they wanted more education about LGBT community organizations around Los Angeles so we hosted the LGBT College Fair and an intercollegiate college mixer with UCLA and the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center,â he said.
In 2008, the surveys indicated a desire for more resources for the transgender community. Now, the LGBT Resource Centerâs website includes a list of local transgender-friendly physicians, and several campus buildings have gender-neutral bathrooms.
One of several students planning to attend this yearâs focus groups is Michael Salvatore, a sophomore majoring in fine arts and anthropology.
âIâm glad theyâre holding the focus groups because there are a lot of different interests within our community,â Salvatore said. âGLBTA is a strong social space, but there are other ways for people who are just coming to terms with their sexuality to take advantage of the LGBT resources than just social events.â
Though this weekâs focus groups are open only to undergraduates, GLBTA and the LGBT Resource Center will conduct focus groups for graduate students April 6 and focus groups for faculty and staff April 8.
âIâm hoping students come out to the focus groups regardless of their involvement level within our community,â Vigil said. âI want them to voice their opinions and provide new insights and ideas that continue to help us to innovate and create programs and services that are tailored to them.â
The focus groups will take place Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Parkside International Residential College in room 1016 and Wednesday at 8 p.m. in the Birnkrant Residential College first-floor lounge.