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

Princeton Review’s 20 most gay-friendly and gay-unfriendly colleges in the U.S.

UDallas

The Princeton Review is out with its gay-friendly and gay-unfriendly schools. SMU remained off the gay-unfriendly list for a second year, but the University of Dallas, Texas A&M and Baylor made the list at No. 10, 11 and 12, respectively. No Texas schools are on the gay-friendly list. View the full lists below.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: SMU off Princeton Review’s list of most homophobic schools

For the first time in recent memory, Southern Methodist University is not on the Princeton Review’s “LGBT-unfriendly” list (registration required). Last year, the school was ranked 12th-most homophobic.

Karen Click, director of the SMU Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives, was delighted with the news.

“I’ve only worked seven years to get there,” she said.

She said that just because SMU is off the list, it doesn’t mean the work is over. Baylor, for example, had been on the list, dropped off last year but is back in the No. 10 spot this year. Other Texas schools on the homophobic list are Texas A&M at No. 7 and University of Dallas at No. 15.

The most LGBT-unfriendly school this year is Grove City College in Pennsylvania. The most LGBT-friendly school is Emerson College in Boston.

Princeton Review only releases the top and bottom 20 in each category. Here are the other categories in which SMU was ranked this year:

• Best career services: No. 7

• College town gets high marks: No. 16

• Happiest students: No. 15

• Lots of Greek life: No. 12

• Most accessible professors: No. 2

• Most conservative students: No. 17

• Best athletic facilities: No. 10

—  David Taffet

Spectrum again seeks LGBT senator at SMU

Members of gay student group speak out after registrar cuts off talks over diversity seat proposal

SEEKING REPRESENTATION  |  Spectrum members, from left, Jessica Barner, Eric Douglas, Danielle Palomo, Breanna Diaz, Jakob Schwarz and Kristen Baker-Fletcher outside an SMU Student Senate meeting this week. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

SEEKING REPRESENTATION  | Spectrum members, from left, Jessica Barner, Eric Douglas, Danielle Palomo, Breanna Diaz, Jakob Schwarz and Kristen Baker-Fletcher outside an SMU Student Senate meeting this week. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK — Progress toward an LGBT Student Senate seat at Southern Methodist University came to a halt last week when the school registrar cut off talks with Karen Click, director of the Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives.

“I need to put this project on hold for a while, as I don’t have the resources now,” Joe Papari, SMU’s director of enrollment services for student systems and technology, wrote in an email to Click.

Papari couldn’t be reached for comment.

On Tuesday, Feb. 14, members of the LGBTQA student group Spectrum addressed the Student Senate to ask for help in restarting the talks about a Senate seat.

“Show how progressive our campus can be,” Spectrum President Harvey Luna urged the Senate.

Tom Elliott, who now works for the Travis County Democratic Party in Austin,  first brought the idea of an LGBT seat to the Senate in 2009 when he was a senior.

Elliot said when he served on the Senate’s Diversity Committee, it dealt with finding more resources for minorities and better ways to recruit new students from those communities.

He thought that with the negative publicity SMU gets from the Princeton Review rating of the school as one of the 20 most homophobic campuses in the U.S., an LGBT senator would send a positive signal to potential incoming students that while the student body remains conservative and seems lacking in diversity, everyone is actually welcome at SMU.

The Princeton ranking is based on student surveys. In many ways, SMU doesn’t fit the profile of other schools on the list. SMU is the only school on the list with inclusive nondiscrimination policies, domestic partner benefits for employees, sanctioned LGBT student groups and openly gay faculty and staff who are embraced by the administration.

In December 2009, the Student Senate voted against adding the LGBT diversity seat. The vote was 19-19, but a three-fourths majority was needed to pass the resolution that would have then gone to the entire student body for a vote.

But the perception of the school remains one where gays and lesbians are not welcome, according to members of Spectrum who believe that a diversity seat would help change that.

Last year, Spectrum again urged the Senate to add the seat but they again voted it down citing the difficulty in identifying LGBT students and uncertainty about how many students the senator would represent.

“They were concerned with numbers,” said Spectrum member Eric Douglas. “They threw out 150 as a number.”

He laughed at the idea that on a campus with 11,000 students, fewer than 150 would be LGBT.

Senate Secretary Martha Pool said that there’s concern about double representation and questioned all diversity seats.

“Special interests are supposed to have liaisons,” she said. “There’s supposed to be a senator [assigned to] every student group. That way, everyone is fairly represented.”

However, no one from Spectrum who attended the Senate meeting on Tuesday had ever met a senator assigned to their group.

Spectrum member Kristen Baker-Fletcher objected to the idea that a senator who isn’t a member of the LGBT community could represent those students well.

She mocked the idea, characterizing it as, “We have efficient people who can speak for you.”

Spectrum’s activist chair Breanna Diaz said that a diversity senator would represent all LGBT students, not just the few who belong to one of the school’s several gay groups. She said an LGBT representative would bring issues to the Senate that aren’t currently being addressed, including health, mental health and safety.

Diaz said a major concern from last year seems to be resolved. In talks with the registrar, an optional slot could be added to the online student information profiles. Students could indicate their sexual orientation or gender identity on a confidential page. Those who self-identified as members of the LGBT community could vote for the diversity senator but wouldn’t have to belong to a campus LGBT organization.

Several senators asked whether a resolution to the registrar would make a difference.

Spectrum member Jakob Schwarz said, “The only leg the registrar’s office can stand on is that students don’t want it. A resolution by the Student Senate would be an indication of students do want.”

Click wasn’t sure that registration on the campus database was necessarily the answer.

“Is this the one stumbling block?” Click asked, adding that she doesn’t know the answer.

Click said the question of who would vote for the LGBT seat is complicated since a lot of allies attend Spectrum, many LGBT students don’t belong to any of the campus groups, and reaching out to them all is difficult because of the transience of an undergraduate population.

“There’s no easy fix,” she said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 17, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

SMU drops 2 spots to No. 16 on Princeton Review’s list of most homophobic schools

The Princeton Review’s Annual College Rankings were released Monday, and SMU again appears on the list of the nation’s 20 least LGBT-friendly schools. However, after finishing at No. 14 for two consecutive years, SMU dropped two spots to No. 16.

Other Texas schools that made this year’s least LGBT-friendly list are the University of Dallas in Irving at No. 7, Baylor University in Waco at No. 11, and Texas A&M University-College Station at No. 17.

No Texas schools made the most LGBT-friendly list, which is led by Emerson College in Massachusetts, followed by Stanford University and New York University.

To view the full rankings, go here.

—  John Wright