LGBTQ students to record stories for scholarship fund

Daniel Moore

LGBTQ students can tell their stories Thursday for a video that will be featured in a fundraiser April 2 to benefit the LGBTQ Student Emergency Scholarship Fund.

The recordings will take place from 9:15 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in White Hall Room 404.

The video will premiere during a two-hour reception event in the Cleveland Ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton followed by a showing of “A Marine Story,” a movie featured in the Cleveland International Film Festival, said Dr. Molly Merryman, associate professor in the Sociology Department.

Merryman said the fundraiser has received “incredible support” from The Cleveland International Film Festival and The Ritz-Carlton, the latter of which allowed free access to its ballroom.

The 10-minute video of student’s stories will give the attendees a perspective they may not have seen in their college days, she said.

“We want people attending the benefit to have a sense of who our students are and what their lives are like,” Merryman said. “A lot of (attendees) have been out of college for years. Things change and stories change.”

Proceeds from the fundraiser will feed the new LGBTQ Emergency Scholarship Fund, which helps students facing financial emergency caused by “parental abandonment because of the student’s gender identity and/or sexual orientation,” according to the fund’s website.

Merryman said an anonymous faculty member gave $500 in Fall 2010 to start the emergency fund. She said the fund helped one student at the beginning of the semester who was sleeping on his friends’ couches. Working with the Bursar’s Office, Residence Services and Financial Aid, Merryman was able to provide the student with a residence hall room in two days, she said.

Merryman said if students are cut off from their families, they have to declare themselves financially independent in order to receive a financial aid package, which is a long legal process that involves the Internal Revenue Service.

“It’s emotionally devastating,” Merryman said. “It has the potential to completely disrupt a student’s education.”

Often a student will withdraw for at least a semester, she said.

“You may not even come back to college,” Merryman said. “We want to be able to step in and help them stay. The need is critical.”

Merryman said because the fund is still low, another student has been denied help until after the fundraiser, and other students have expressed interest. Because the fund’s policy is first-come, first-served, she said the scholarship needs at least $10,000 to be a sustainable fund.

“It’s really important students attend,” she said. “When the money runs out, we can’t help anybody.”

Electronic registration to the fundraiser is available to students on the LGBT Studies website. Tickets are $75, and they cover the reception event and the film viewing. Merryman said she encourages the general public to pay an extra $25 for the admission of a Pride! Kent member or LGBT Studies student because the full admission price is outside many students’ budgets.

The emergency fund joins two other new scholarships, The Curry and Myers Scholarship and The Akron PFLAG Scholarship, and LGBT students can apply for them for Fall 2011.

Contact Daniel Moore at [email protected]