The Andy Cemelli Research Grant andthe Norm Robertson Prize will be awarded by the Oberlin Lesbian Gay Bisexual Alumni Association (OLGBA) for the first time this year.
The Research Grant was given out last year to Deborah Cane under the name of the "Queer Studies Research Grant." The grant was renamed this year to honor the memory of Cemelli, one of the three founders of OLGBA, who died Feb. 5, 1996.
The Grant awards the recipient $750.
The Prize was created to honor Robertson, another founder of OLGBA, who died in January, 1992.
According to Associate Professor of Expository Writing Jan Cooper, in a statement of frequently asked question, the Andy Cemelli Reseach Grant is available to one or more sophomores, juniors, or fourth-year Double-degree students. It is awarded for research in an area "related to the history, experience or accomplishment of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgendered, and/or transsexual (LGBTT) people." Cooper is a member of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Concerns Committee and chair of the LGBCC subcommittee created to work with OLGBA.
The grant money is intended to help with travel expenses to research sites and conferences and the purchase of research tools, among other things.
The Norm Robertson Prize, which awards $250, is "intended to spotlight students who have completed outstanding projects of either scholarly research or artistic production/performance that advance communal awareness of issues related to the history, experience, or accomplishments of LGBTT people," said the FAQ.
Both awards are "intended to encourage and celebrate students willing to undertake projects in issues related to LGBTT people," according to Cooper's FAQ sheet.
Some general criteria to recieve the awards are: the quality of the research proposal, in terms of originality and significance within the related field and to the LGBTT community at large; quality of the plans for research - how well thought out the project is, feasibility and the researcher's previous preparation in the area; and, for the Prize, the quality of the work completed and the significance of it.
Before last year, students had little hope of institutional support for their projects, Cooper said.
Queer studies, Cooper said, is very new, still requiring research of "unusual creativity." LGBTT research "requires courage to negotiate the risks that may arise from having one's name linked with subjects that may [be] viewed in some quarters as faddish, immoral, or a threat to social order," Cooper said.
Midge Brittingham, executive director of the Alumni Association, worked with both Cemelli and Robertson. Of Cemelli, Brittingham said, "He was the kind of person who everyone was fond of. But so was Norm. They were very likable young men."
In 1989, Cemelli and Robertson, along with Eric Nilson, lobbied successfully for OLGBA with the executive board of the Alumni Counsel. Cemelli, who graduated from Oberlin in the late 1980's, began collecting names of people who wanted to be involved with OLGBA while he was still a student. After graduation, Cemelli co-chaired OLGBA for about three years.
Cemelli received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Alumni Association at an alumni luncheon during commencement 1993. Brittingham said that it was a major step for the Alumni Association to come out and recognize OLGBA, but that "it's not a step that all alumni agree with." Some older alumni, she said, have stopped supporting Oberlin.
Both Cemelli and Robertson made yearly visits to Oberlin for meetings. Robertson, who worked for a Baroque performance group, also returned for concerts and to visit friends-Robertson grew up in Lorain. The Norm Robertson Prize will be awarded during commencement and the recipient of the Andy Cemelli Research Grant will be chosen next month.
Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 124, Number 18; March 15, 1996
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