Prospective LGBTQ students attend UT-Austin visit day

Jasmine Lopez

The Gender and Sexuality Center and UT Admissions hosted its third annual visit day for LGBTQ prospective students Saturday. This year, the center and UT Admissions partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area to bus in local Austin students, said Liz Elsen, director of the Gender and Sexuality Center.

Elsen said campus visits help prospective students meet current students who share their identity. 

“Unless you’re really intentional about outreach, there’s a lot of different communities that don’t perceive UT as a place they can go or (don’t) think that they would fit in here or thrive here,” Elsen said. 

The day included general presentations about the University, its admissions process and financial aid. Prospective students had the opportunity to ask a panel of current students questions, while parents asked Elsen questions.

Elsen said students and parents come with questions about policy, student organizations and gender-inclusive housing and­ ­­­­­bathrooms. 

“A lot of times folks ask about safety, and the difference between feeling safe and actually (feeling) full-on welcomed to an institution (is crucial),” Elsen said.

Ariel Juarez, radio-television-film sophomore, came to the event their senior year of high school with questions. For the last two years, they have been on the panel answering questions. 

“When I came to these events, I wouldn’t have thought that this event would make me have friends that are long-lasting and (who) I’m still friends with now,” Juarez said. 

Elsen said the event is important because it gives prospective students a more intimate visit. 

“Not only are they getting to connect with the campus, they’re getting to connect with each other, and so if several of those students are admitted, they already have friends,” Elsen said. 

Undeclared freshman Allie Manning Lorino said she had always wanted to come to UT, but attending the LGBTQ visit days during her junior and senior year of high school made her want to come even more.

“It was nice that I already knew (Elsen) and (could) go to the GSC,” Manning Lorino said. 

Elsen said anyone admitted to UT is welcome to email UT Admissions or the Gender and Sexuality Center with questions, but it feels different to email someone they have already met. 

“(Students) are starting off the school year with a sense of community, which can really make a difference on how someone feels the first couple weeks on campus,” Elsen said.