New workshops for LGBT+ students, focusing on coming out in college, are to take place as part of Freshers Week this year at University College Cork (UCC) for the first time ever.
The two new facility-led workshops will be held for first-year LGBT+ students Saturday, September 7 during UCC orientation.
Inspired by the idea of introducing a mentoring programme for students to be led by academic staff, the workshops will help to address some of the specific difficulties that LGBT+ students face. That’s according to Sara Jane Cromwell, the workshop’s coordinator.
“When you think about students coming into college, you can see all their different reactions,” Ms Cromwell said.
This stress can also have an effect on students’ academic abilities, Ms Cromwell added: “The whole idea behind the workshop is to make students feel welcome when they start at UCC, which is a University of Sanctuary and we want our LGBT students to know that it's a safe space here and that they are genuinely welcome.”
“The second thing we want to highlight to students is all the different supports available on campus here for them."
These include the LGBT society, the welfare offices, and the students' union, she added. "These workshops are now introducing a layer of academic support as well."
“We will be checking in with students who take the workshops in both November and next March, which are critical times during the academic year as its the lead-up to the exams, to see how they are coping,” Ms Cromwell said.
It is hoped that these LGBT+ workshops will become an annual fixture as part of first-year orientation, with staff also hoping to apply their research to recommending future support services, she added.
On Saturday, former chairman of the UCC LGBT society and current coordinator of the Gay Project, Pádraig Rice, will discuss coming out in a university environment, and Ms Cromwell will discuss 'the dos and don'ts of defining yourself'.'
UCC's 'Fresher Fest' will also see a range of different workshops offered to students, focused on both academic and life skills.
This year, students can also take part in an international climate negotiations role-play game to experience what it is like to sit at the highest decision-making levels globally.