Campus Pride releases list of top 25 LGBT-friendly colleges

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Campus Pride released its list of 25 most LGBT-friendly campuses this week. No Texas schools made the list. The rankings are based on eight criteria:

1. LGBT Policy Inclusion
2. LGBT Support & Institutional Commitment
3. LGBT Academic Life
4. LGBT Student Life
5. LGBT Housing
6. LGBT Campus Safety
7. LGBT Counseling & Health
8. LGBT Recruitment and Retention Efforts

The Princeton Review’s top and bottom 20 campus lists were released earlier this month. That ranking is based on student opinion of the atmosphere on campus and comes from an unscientific sampling.

Campus Pride asks five to eight questions in each of the above categories to get a pretty clear picture of LGBT life on campus.

Campus Pride ranks schools on five-star rating system. It reports that more than 80 percent of the colleges that participated improved their scores this year. This year, 53 schools got five stars.

Here’s their ranking of the top 25 in alphabetical order:

• Carleton College
• Case Western Reserve University
• Connecticut College
• Ithaca College
• Macalester College
• Oberlin College
• Portland State University
• Princeton University
• Rutgers University
• Southern Oregon University
• Stanford University
• The Ohio State University
• University of California, Riverside
• University of California, Santa Cruz
• University of Illinois at Chicago
• University of Maryland, College Park
• University of Massachusetts, Amherst
• University of Michigan
• University of Minnesota — Duluth
• University of Minnesota — Twin Cities
• University of Oregon
• University of Pennsylvania
• University of Southern California
• University of Washington
• Washington State University

Only four schools made both the Campus Pride and Princeton lists: Carleton, Macalester, Oberlin and Stanford.

—  David Taffet

TCU’s LGBT Leadership Conference aims to become ‘the big gay conference in our region’

TCU students at the 2011 conference

After last year’s well-received LGBT Leadership Conference on the TCU campus in Fort Worth that focused on empowering LGBT youth after several suicides in the fall of 2010, this year’s conference will continue the inspiring message of the “It Gets Better” campaign.

But instead of inviting only Texas schools like SMU and UTA, this year will have a regional focus with the Southwestern Association of Gay-Straight Alliances, an organization that grew out of the success of last year’s conference, said Jamal King, treasurer and historian of the TCU gay-straight alliance.

Schools like Kansas State and Arizona State universities will join local schools, and the turnout is expected to be similar to last year’s event, which brought in 75 students from about nine colleges, King said. After the word about a large conference in Texas spread, he said other schools wanted to participate, leading to the creation of the regional organization.

King was the mastermind behind the first conference and served as co-director for the event this year, which will once again bring several LGBT organizations like PFLAG, Q Cinema and the AIDS Outreach Center together to discuss issues affecting the community.

Last year’s highlight was a presentation from the Trevor Project, but this year the keynote address will come from Shane Windmeyer, founder of Campus Pride, a nonprofit that helps students establish safe campuses for students.

Windmeyer was an obvious choice for the conference, King said, because his organization portrays acceptance on campuses nationwide, something that became a focus this year with the regional college attendance.

“We were looking for someone who had a lot of experience with the issue of LGBT suicide on a larger scale and working with Campus Pride is a much larger scale on a national level,” King said. “We’re going bigger and so is our scope.”

—  Dallasvoice

FEEDBACK: Elmhurst really the first?

Elmhurst really the first?

Regarding the article, “Elmhurst College becomes 1st to ask about sexual orientation,” in the Aug. 29 issue of Dallas Voice.

Three colleges that I know of personally have been asking this for several years. Elmhurst is far from the first to ask about sexual orientation.

I applied to law school with the University of Pennsylvania and they ask this. U.C. Berkley used to ask this, though I’m not sure if they still do. Either Cornell or Columbia also ask on their applications.

Ryan R. Cooper, via email

Editor’s note: According to Shane L. Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, Elmhurst College is the first college to ask about sexual orientation as an optional demographic question on an undergraduate application. Graduate schools, especially law schools, have been asking the question and UPenn and Dartmouth have been leaders in that area. Windmeyer said that probably has to do with age — many students aren’t out when they’re first applying to college but have come out by the time they’re applying to graduate school. Law schools may be asking because of injustice that’s been done to the LGBT community and the variety of cases involving discrimination against the LGBT community. Other undergraduate applications have asked about interests. But interest in joining a group such as a GSA is not the direct demographic information that Elmhurst is asking.

…………………….

TO SEND A LETTER  | We welcome letters from readers. Shorter letters and those addressing a single issue are more likely to be printed. Letters are subject to editing for length and clarity, but we attempt to maintain the writer’s substance and tone. Include  your home address and a daytime telephone number for verification. Send letters to the senior editor, preferably by e-mail (nash@dallasvoice.com). Letters also may be faxed (214-969-7271) or sent via the U.S. Postal Service (Dallas Voice, 4145 Travis St., Third Floor, Dallas TX 75204). All letters become the property of Dallas Voice.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 31, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Elmhurst College becomes 1st to ask about sexual orientation

Circle Hall at Elmhurst College

Students who identify as LGBT might qualify for scholarships, can be directed to campus groups, president says

Associated Press

ELMHURST, Ill. — Elmhurst College in suburban Chicago has become the first in the country to ask students directly on admissions applications about their gender identity and sexual orientation.

The application asks: “Would you consider yourself to be a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) community?”

Students who answer “yes” may be eligible for a scholarship that will pay up to a third of tuition, said Gary Rold, the college’s dean of admissions. The information also will help officials direct incoming students to services and groups that could help them on campus, Rold added.

“Increasing diversity is part of our mission statement,” Rold told the Chicago Sun-Times. “This is simply closing the loop, in many ways, of another group who has a very strong identity. It may not be race and religion, but it’s an important part of who they are.”

The question will appear on applications for students hoping to start in the fall of 2012. Like questions about race and religion, answering is optional and will not affect admissions decisions.

Elmhurst College is a private, liberal arts college that has 3,300 undergraduate students. It is affiliated with the United Church of Christ.

“It is kind of a pleasant surprise that Elmhurst College in Illinois is the first campus to ask an identity question,” said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, a national nonprofit group. “Some of the leaders in college admissions have done similar stuff but never asked the question.”

Information from: Chicago Sun-Times, SunTimes.com.

—  John Wright

SMU gets 4 stars for gay-friendliness

The group Campus Pride has given Southern Methodist University 4 out of 5 stars in its LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index. This stands in stark contrast to the Princeton Review’s ratings, which ranked SMU among the 20 most gay-unfriendly campuses in the country.

Karen Click, director of the SMU Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives, said of the Campus Pride rating, “What we’re doing, we get graded very high on.”

Click said Campus Pride is helpful with suggestions, and a faculty and staff LGBT group began as a result of a comment from last year’s survey.

She said that with housing, for example, other campuses offer to match a gay person with an LGBT-accepting person. SMU doesn’t offer that service yet.

Princeton Review bases its score entirely on student surveys. Campus Pride looks at school policies and activities. But in student life, the group gave SMU 5 stars. Below is the breakdown of SMU’s rating from Campus Pride:

—  David Taffet

SMU makes Princeton Review’s ‘homophobic’ list again

DISCRIMINATION? | Joe Hoselton, aka Jenna Skyy, director of graduate admissions at Meadows School, sits in his office at SMU with his Miss Texas FFI crown on his desk. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Despite the Dallas university’s broad range of programs and outreach to the LGBT community, students still rank it worse than even Baylor when it comes to ‘LGBT friendly’

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Southern Methodist University in Dallas is the 12th most LGBT-unfriendly school in the country, according to the annual ranking compiled and issued by the Princeton Review.

But LGBT faculty, staff and alumni and straight allies say that Princeton Review doesn’t look at the whole picture and their school simply doesn’t belong in the same category as other schools whose policies are clearly discriminatory.

And rather than acknowledge strides the school has made in recent years, the list moved SMU to No. 12 this year, up from the 16th
position the Dallas university occupied last year.

The conservative Baptist school Baylor University in Waco, in the No. 11 spot last year, didn’t make the list at all this time around.

Dallas has the distinction of being the only city with two schools on the list — SMU and, at No. 9, the University of Dallas. And Texas is the only state with three schools on the list. In addition to the two in Dallas, Texas A&M comes in at No. 10.

SMU, which has been on the list for several years, is the only school in the group whose non-discrimination policies specifically include protections for the LGBT community.

Karen Click, director of the Women’s Center at SMU that includes LGBT programs, said she was hoping her school was moving off the list. She was disappointed that it moved up instead.

“As the staff member charged with improving the climate, it’s frustrating,” she said.

Click said that Campus Pride also surveys schools about the climate on campus and provides useful input. A new LGBT faculty and staff group was organized at the school this year as a result of recommendations from the group.

In June, a new LGBT alumni organization met for the first time. Openly gay Dean David Chard hosted the first reception for the group in the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas reception lounge in the new Simmons School of Education building.

In contrast, Baylor alumnus Patti Fink said, several years ago when a group of alumni tried to organize an LGBT alumni group, rather than welcome their donations, Baylor sent them a cease and desist order.

Chard said he was probably the only openly gay dean among any of the schools that made the bottom 20.

Fink joked that she didn’t have a list of Baylor’s gay deans handy.

“Even if I looked for a month, I probably wouldn’t find them,” she said.

Chard echoed Click’s frustration. He said that among other things, the school was about to present an anti-bullying conference and has hosted the Gayla Prom on campus for at least a decade.

Fink said there’s never been an LGBT dance on the Baylor campus nor any sanctioned LGBT organizations.

“SMU has been a sponsor of Black Tie Dinner, supported by almost all of the deans on campus, for three years,” Chard said.

And the Simmons School counseling program internship with the longest waiting list partners with Resource Center Dallas.

“We’re doing good work for members of our community,” Chard said.

Fink said she knew of no programs at Baylor that were tied to Waco’s LGBT community. The school has made no donations to fundraising events that support the community. She said her alma mater doesn’t hold an LGBT job fair, which SMU does annually, nor do any Baylor departments partner with any LGBT community groups.

Click said that a Baylor student read an article in Dallas Voice last year about the LGBT-unfriendly rankings. That student contacted her from Waco to help find any resources on the Baylor campus. Click connected her with faculty who are unable to be out on the Waco campus.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m working for two schools,” Click said.

She said that SMU has four LGBT groups and a fifth is forming. And, she said, support for the LGBT community is not new.

“Spectrum [the undergraduate group] has been operating since the 1980s,” she said.

An LGBT group at Perkins School of Theology is active and has the support of that school’s dean. Two other graduate schools with LGBT groups are the law school and business school.

Not only is SMU the only school on the Princeton Review list with a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity, it has also offered domestic partner benefits for faculty and staff members’ partners since 2001.

To top it off, Fink said she doesn’t think any of her school has any staff members that perform on film or at a nightclub — or anywhere else for that matter — in drag.

But SMU does.

Joe Hoselton is graduate admissions coordinator at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, but in the LGBT community, he’s better known as Jenna Skyy.

Click said she is pretty sure that no graduate admissions counselor at any of the other schools on the list have ever taught classes on makeup or appeared at a president’s dinner in drag. And Fink confirmed that Baylor President Kenneth Starr is certainly unlikely to host a drag dinner.

Hoselton has done both those things at SMU.

Hoselton said that he thinks the Princeton Review ranking plays into SMU’s stereotypes, something he said he deals with all the time when he’s talking to prospective students.

Hoselton said that while the school has a reputation for its Greek culture, fraternity and sorority membership is capped at a third of undergraduates. When grad students are added, that’s only a sixth of the student body.

Hoselton said he thinks many of the respondents to the survey came from SMU’s business and law schools. Both schools have their own LGBT student organizations but are more conservative than the student population in general.

Hoselton said he thinks students from those schools are more likely to answer lengthy surveys and more likely to answer that there is discrimination, reflecting the stereotype rather than the reality.

Hoselton said that a theology student at Baylor spoke to him before applying to Perkins. That student told Hoselton he came out to a Baylor dean who told him he could continue to study at Baylor but would not graduate and would not find placement help.

The student transferred to Perkins at SMU, where the dean supports him.

Justin Nichols graduated from SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. He said that a regular financial aid application that included parent’s income indicated that he could afford the tuition. However, because he is gay, his father cut him off, so he filed a “special circumstances” form.

“They made it affordable for me to attend,” he said.

Fink said that she doubts being lesbian would have qualified her for special financial aid consideration at Baylor.

Despite the official policies and variety of programs, the ranking is based solely on how students view their own campus. Students from at least 20 other colleges think their schools are more homophobic than Baylor. And students at SMU think gays and lesbians are not treated very well.

“The message that remains from an undergraduate student body is they feel it’s a homophobic campus,” Chard said.

—  John Wright

Campus Pride calls for expulsion of 2 Rutgers students for invading Tyler Clementi’s privacy

Tyler Clementi

Campus Pride, an organization of college student leaders and organizations, is calling for the expulsion of Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei from Rutgers University for their invasion of privacy that led to the suicide of Tyler Clementi.

In an e-mail to Dallas Voice, the group wrote, “Now is the time to act decisively and send a clear message at Rutgers and at colleges across the country that LGBT harassment and hate will not be tolerated any longer.”

The group said the Rutgers University Code of Student Conduct prohibits “making or attempting to make an audio or video recording of any person(s) on University premises in bathrooms, showers, bedrooms, or other premises where there is an expectation of privacy with respect to nudity and/or sexual activity, without the knowledge and consent of all participants subject to such recordings.”

“Ravi and Wei acted maliciously to secretly tape Tyler Clementi, even posting comments to encourage others to ‘video chat’ and watch. This is an egregious act of invasion of privacy. Both students should be expelled. Period,” said Shane Windmeyer, executive director and founder of Campus Pride.

Campus Pride recently issued a report titled, “2010 State of Higher Education for LGBT People.” In its survey of more than 5,000 people, Campus Pride found that 23 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning staff, faculty, and students reported experiencing harassment. Among transgender students, faculty and staff, 39 percent reported harassment. The study is available on the website.

—  David Taffet

Yet another gay teen takes his own life

Raymond Chase

Believe it or not, another openly gay teen has taken his own life, bringing the total to six in the month of September. The latest victim is Raymond Chase, a 19-year-old student at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., who hung himself in his dorm room on Wednesday, Sept. 29. While it’s unclear whether bullying was a factor in Chase’s death, clearly at this point we are witnessing an extremely alarming trend. Chase’s death marks the sixth known suicide by a teenager who was gay or perceived to be gay in the month of September. All of the other five had been victims of anti-gay bullying. They are Asher Brown, 13, of Houston; Seth Walsh, 13, of Tehachapi, Calif.; Billy Lucas, 15, of Greensburg, Ind.; Tyler Clementi of New Jersey; and Justin Aaberg, 15, of Minnesota.

What’s going on here, folks, and what are we gonna do about it? Here’s the full press release from Campus Pride on Chase’s death:

Campus Pride Demands National Action to address LGBT Youth Bullying, Harassment & Suicide

In the wake of two college suicides Tyler Clementi of Rutgers University & Raymond Chase of Johnson & Wales, Campus Pride reissues findings and recommendations from the “2010 State of Higher Education for LGBT People” released last week at a U.S. congressional briefing on Capitol Hill

(Providence, RI) Campus Pride, the nation’s leading non-profit organization working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and ally college and university students, offers its condolences and support to the family of Raymond Chase who reportedly hung himself in his residence hall room this past Wednesday, September 29, 2010 on the campus of Johnson & Wales in Providence, RI.

“The loss of Raymond this week is the second college LGBT-related suicide in a week and the fifth teenage LGBT suicide in three weeks. The suicide of this openly gay young man is for reasons currently unknown; however, the recent pattern of LGBT youth suicides is cause for grave concern,” said Shane Windmeyer, executive director and founder of Campus Pride. “Campus Pride demands national action be taken to address youth bullying, harassment and the need for safety and inclusion for LGBT youth at colleges and universities across the country. We must not let these tragic deaths go unnoticed.  Together we must act decisively to curb anti-LGBT bias incidents, harassment and acts of violence.”

Through its Q Research Institute for Higher Education, Campus Pride released last week its “2010 State of Higher Education for LGBT People.” The in-depth research study is the most comprehensive national LGBT higher education study of its kind. Campus Pride surveyed more than 5,000 LGBT students, faculty and staff for the report. Findings demonstrate that these recent suicides and incidents of harassment are neither rare nor fleeting– they are REAL.

Among the findings in the report:

-One quarter (23%) of LGBQ staff, faculty, and students reported experiencing harassment (defined as any conduct that has interfered with your ability to work or learn). Almost all identified sexual identity as the basis of the harassment (83%). An even greater percentage of transgender students, faculty, & staff reported experiencing harassment (39%) with 87% identifying their gender identity/expression as the basis for the harassment. The form of the harassment experiences by transgender people was more overt and blatant.

-One-third of LGBQ (33%) and transgender (38%) students, faculty, and staff have seriously considered leaving their institution due to the challenging climate.

-More than half of all faculty, students, & staff hide their sexual identity (43%) or gender identity (63%) to avoid intimidation.

-More than a third of all transgender students, faculty, & staff(43%) and13% of LGBQ respondents feared for their physical safety.This finding was more salient for LGBQ students and for LGBQ and/or Transgender People of Color.

For more information about Campus Pride’s “2010 State of Higher Education for LGBT People” report, visit www.campuspride.org/research.

—  John Wright