By Mylo Fisherman
The LGBTQIA+ First-Year Experience Program (FYE) was introduced to Adelphi in the fall 2019 by its facilitator, Erin Furey, who is Adelphi’s outreach, training and mental health promotion coordinator. The goal of FYE is to allow first-year and transfer students who are LGBTQIA+ identified to easily adjust to college life by building a connection to the university’s broader LGBTQIA+ community. In this program, participants are able to make friends and share their experiences being in the LGBTQIA+ community in a safe space where their identity is affirmed by their peers. FYE also allows participants to get connected with Adelphi’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA), as well as other resources Adelphi has to offer that will continue to affirm their identity after the program’s end.
This year’s FYE began on Sept. 14 and was held for six weeks with its last meeting held on Oct. 19. Meetings took place every Tuesday from 4 to 5 pm in a hyflex modality on Zoom and in the University Center 116/117 with an average attendance of 17. From the regular participants, the overall feedback of this program was generally positive with its only flaw being that participants wanted it to be longer and to meet more frequently.
“I thought it was fun. It was a great opportunity to get to know some other queer first-year students on campus,” said R. McNeely, an undecided first-year student.
River Gorman, a first-year psychology student, said, “The LGBTQIA+ First-Year Experience Program was a great opportunity to make friends and find a community where I know I’ll be accepted.”
According to Furey, “I think one of the things that have been the most impactful was that [FYE] has grown in number and flexibility. It has become longer and allowed previous members to come back.”
On Oct. 12, that is exactly what former members of the group were allowed to do.
Monique Østbye, a senior international relations major, who attended the program in 2019, said, “I really enjoyed participating in the FYE. It was nice to get to know other students on campus that I otherwise might not have connected with. It has been great to see this program grow and know that other students are having the same positive experience that I had.”
While the 2019 and 2021 groups were able to experience FYE in-person, the same can't be said for the 2020 cohort. Kennie Cervantes, a sophomore computer science major, attended the program on Zoom last year. They stated that “it makes me realize I was born in the wrong year, compared to this year my FYE sucked but I met good friends.”
But Furey said that other participants had expressed they felt the online format made it easier. In reference to Covid forcing students back home where they may not be accepted for who they are, Furey states that “queer and trans students needed to get out… the impact of Covid created a need for community.”
Furey emphasized that a secondary goal of FYE has always been to identify and cultivate potential leaders and that she was proud to see that many students who have participated in the program have since moved on to do just that on campus. More than half of the current GSA executive board is composed of former FYE participants. While GSA is the given group for former FYE participants to gravitate to, they hold leadership positions all over campus in organizations such as Her Campus, Feminist Alliance and Resident Student Association (RSA) just to name a few.
Whether helping them feel comfortable in their identity or adjust to college life, this program has proven itself to be beneficial to the LGBTQIA+ population of students here at Adelphi. The confidence, support nets and bonds that this program helps to foster aids tremendously in the attendees’ lives as they further their education at Adelphi.
Before the end of this semester there will be an event with first-year and transfer students being invited back. Additionally, there will be a final event of the semester just before winter break that will be open to the greater populous of LGBTQIA+ individuals at Adelphi.
Students who want to learn more can email Erin Furey at firstname.lastname@example.org.