We applaud Mills for setting up a scholarship for LGBTQ students beginning in Fall 2008, but it will not address the needs of current students next semester. The proposal wrote up by [Laurel] Fedor was a response to Krystle Ahmadyar’s needs. Fedor wants to establish a merit scholarship that will financially support queer students who get cut off financially. Setting up the scholarship as merit, rather than need-based (evaluated from the FAFSA) ensures that students who are cut off financially can apply for funds that they would otherwise [not] qualify for. Mills currently has no such scholarship and the $345,000 fund has not been specified as need or merit based.
According to The Campanil’s Nov. 12 article, Ahmadyar has no present financial needs. Whenever her situation was discussed, it was done so in the past tense. This is inaccurate. She still has unmet needs. She can’t afford tuition this year. When Ahmadyar came out to her parents, they cut her off completely. In response to her revelation, her father said, “We’re Muslim. We don’t believe in that,” and then proceeded to cancel her plane ticket home for the holidays. After getting cut off, Ahmadyar began focusing on how Mills could address the issue that she’s dealing with. In the beginning, she was told by the M Center and Ramon Torrecilha that there was nothing available for her. So she proceeded to contact the Alumnae House, Division of Student Life, the administration and the trustees. While there has been vocal support for her idea, nothing has panned out.
President Holmgren gives a speech to prospective students every year encouraging students to make Mills their home and asserting that Mills wants them. If Mills is serious about its commitment to women, then it needs to step up support of LGBTQ students. Establishing a fund to address the specific issues that LGBTQ students deal with in coming out to their parents would be a step in the right direction. But as a women’s college, Mills has an obligation to meet Ahmadyar’s specific extenuating circumstances. Making the funds available next semester, as hoped, would sufficiently address the issue and more importantly, make it possible for Ahmadyar to graduate this year.
There will be a meeting on Nov. 28 to discuss the specific criteria for the scholarship as well as when the funds will be made available. If the scholarship is available for Spring 2008, it will help current Mills students as well as those to come. The criteria and availability of the scholarship directly affect Mills students, yet there will not be any Mills students at the meeting.