The Pride Center, located in the University Student Union, is offering a Peer Mentor Online Chat this semester for students who have questions regarding the LGBTQ community.
According to Sarina Loeb, the Pride Center coordinator, this program was created for CSUN students who want to anonymously chat with their peers and receive advice on topics such as coming out.
Loeb said it is important for students who are not comfortable speaking out to have a place to seek advice anonymously.
“A few years ago, we really wanted to be able to outreach the students who weren’t completely comfortable with walking into the space yet so we did some research on what other campuses were doing,” said Loeb.
UC Riverside also has a similar program to the Peer Mentor Online Chat, giving their students an outlet to anonymously contact and chat with their peers.
Loeb said UC Riverside’s program influenced the anonymous chat the Pride Center provides to CSUN students.
“A big part of the peer mentor program online chat is that some people are not comfortable to speak on the subject yet, so they want to provide as much for people who are not ready to come out so they can do so anonymously,” said Cheyenne Chavez, the public relations assistant for the Pride Center.
There are other resources outside of campus where people can get help or advice on the LGBTQ community. However, the online chat program offers other advantages for CSUN students.
“It’s different than the Trevor Project Hotline in that, the Trevor Project is more of a crisis intervention and this is more for students who are trying to connect with somebody or have a question,” said Loeb. “Another difference is that students who are logging in are going to be connecting with CSUN students who know the campus and know the resources in the San Fernando Valley as well as at CSUN.”
Students are encouraged to be themselves and feel comfortable with who they are and the online chat is a way for questioning students to get the help and advice they need anonymously, said Chavez.
“I think it will be beneficial for students because it provides an additional resource for students who might not ever feel comfortable walking into the center because they’re not out or not comfortable with their identity,” said Loeb.
Students can connect to the online chat through the CSUN website and create an anonymous account to start chatting with their peers. The program will be available every Monday beginning Aug. 29 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.