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As a higher education institution, Illinois State University bears a responsibility to ensure that all members of the Redbird community are given an equal chance to thrive as students.

In reality, not all students have an equal chance at excelling in our community, especially those who are financially cut off from their family.

There is one particular group of students who may struggle more than the rest: those within the LGBTQ community.

A member of the Prairie Pride Coalition has stated in recent days that requests from students cut off from families because of their LGBTQ status have risen in recent years.

College is hard enough but having zero support from people who raised and cared for us only makes that worse.

Yet despite such a horrible setback the ISU community has found a way to assist these students through the Redbirds Rising LGBTQ+ Student Support Fund.

The support fund, which has been operating since 2005, has seen record high calls for the fund in this current academic school year.

Although we may not personally know someone who identifies as LGBTQ, as a community it is also our responsibility to assist members of our family.

As stated on the Redbirds Rising homepage, the fund provides emergency financial assistance for students who lose the financial support of their family due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

According to ISU’s Financial Aid Office, the estimated cost of attendance for off-campus Illinois residents is $30,747 for the 2019-2020 academic year (August-May).

For those who do pay tuition and living expenses out of pocket, let that number sink in.

Thus far, three ISU students have applied for the emergency aid after coming out.

That financial assistance offers money for those students and can include clothing, food and tuition.

For one student, not only were they cut off; they were physically assaulted and sent to the hospital.

The Redbird campus community is a sprawling one, a diverse one, an inclusive one.

Instead of throwing money away for a pitcher of beer on Pub Wednesday, save a few bucks and donate to the fund.

One donation may not seem like much but if a hundred or even a thousand students and community members donated a few bucks we would be supporting a cause that impacts those who are truly struggling.

Whether it’s emotionally, financially or physically, we all struggle in some way in college.

When we do go through hard times, seeing that our campus community has provided a way to help us is a light in the dark.

ANDREW DOUGHERTY is a Columnist for The Vidette. Contact him at Follow him on Twitter at @addough

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