Are SMU students getting away with hate speech?

Students took to a social media app, using anti-gay slurs to defeat a vote that would have added an LGBT seat to the student Senate

SMU

YES H8 | Students stroll in and out of SMU’s Dallas Hall during the week before finals. Several of them talked about homophobic attacks on Yik Yak, a social media app. (Steve Ramos/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
Southern Methodist University students littered a recent vote with hate speech that showed how deeply some of them despise the LGBT community. Rants appeared on Yik Yak, a social media app where people can comment anonymously, when the students were voting whether to include an LGBT seat on the student Senate.

“Homosexual isn’t a race its a fucked up way of life,” one student posted on Yik Yak. “Yeah, I’m homophobic. So what?” another student fired off. And there were more. “Fuck fags” also was among the numerous posts.

Yet, there is no firestorm of protests to match those created by another hate-generated tirade. Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA on Tuesday, fined $2.5 million and is being pressured to sell his team after he was recorded making racist comments. On the SMU campus, however, the students’ anti-gay rants have barely stirred the manicured azaleas.

“To me that just shows that it’s OK to hate gay people and say anything you want about them, but you can’t say anything hateful about other groups,” said Glenda Long, who was eating lunch at a restaurant on Cedar Springs Road. “It’s just not right that people say such hateful things about us, and no one cares. But then that basketball team owner says something racist, and everyone wants his head on a platter. Where’s the concern for our community?”

One SMU student was concerned. Dillon Chapman had been documenting the anti-gay comments for weeks, and he said he noticed the number of comments increased as the vote approached. He said he stopped doing it after other students accused him of “cheapening the level of discourse.”

SMU has other minority seats that represent its African-American, Asian, Hispanic, foreign and tranfer students, but attempts to add an LGBT seat have failed repeatedly. In April, the student Senate voted 43 to 3 to create the seat, but the student body voted against changing the student constitution.

The measure’s supporters rallied and collected more than the 10 percent of student signatures needed for a revote. It failed by an even greater margin than the first vote.

Carl McClain, one of the 1,000 students who voted against creating the LGBT seat, said homophobia didn’t influence his vote. He didn’t vote in the first election because he couldn’t make up his mind, but he voted “no” in the revote because he felt students should have accepted the results of the first vote.

“Our student constitution is currently silent on the issue on re-votes, and it was through this kind of technicality that a second ballot was pushed,” McClain said. “I understand that the re-vote proposal emerged from several student senators, though LGBT-friendly organizations eventually endorsed the idea.”

When the anti-gay slurs appeared, encouraging students to vote against the measure, the university’s newspaper, The Daily Campus, devoted its editorial page to the Yik Yak controversy.

“The app is, of course, not responsible for homophobia on campus, but it has brought those sentiments to the forefront, clearly demonstrating to the university the deep-seeded hate a large number of students have against persons identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender,” the editorial board wrote. The editorial further explained that the hateful, anonymous comments that encouraged students to vote against the LGBT seat are  exactly the reason the seat is needed.

In the same issue, SMU President Gerald Turner wrote a letter, condemning the “disrespectful anonymous comments” posted on social media. He called the reports “extremely troubling” and said they violate the Student Code of Conduct.

“When students violate these values through anonymous social media comments, they are harming our community and, we believe, themselves,” Turner wrote.
Sammi Partida, a junior at SMU, says he has ideas to resolve the problem, but when he contacted Turner’s office, he was given a copy of the president’s letter.

“It was good that he was taking note, but a letter won’t cut it,” Partida said. “The newspaper is something that we can all read, feel good about, but at the end of the day, where does it end up? Discarded in a box somewhere.”

SMU-2

CLASSLESS | SMU students took to social media to hurl anti-gay slurs during a recent vote to add an LGBT seat to the student Senate. (Steve Ramos/Dallas Voice)

Partida said he’d like to see funding for the Women’s and Gender Studies program increased to allow for more events and programming. He also said sexual orientation and gender identity should be addressed to allow for more events and programming. Professors, he suggested, could address the issue for a few minutes throughout the semester, especially at times such as the LGBT Senate seat vote or when anti-LGBT incidents occur on campus.

While professors in the gender studies program probably have addressed the Yik Yak comments, Partida doesn’t believe professors at the Cox School of Business have. A lesson might be framed in terms of how unacceptable the anti-gay slurs are in a corporate setting.

“Whether it’s in the workplace, on social media or the company’s intranet sites, we do not tolerate discrimination of any sort, including that based on sexual orientation or gender identity, age, race gender, ethnicity, religion or national origin,” an AT&T spokesman said. “Our social media standards for employees point out explicitly that conduct that is prohibited in the workplace (discrimination, bullying or harassment) also is prohibited in the digital space.”

Turner suggested in his letter that students who feel victimized have resources available to them, including the campus police. Partida, though, doesn’t give that any weight. He said he reported an incident to police when he felt threatened by other students who were calling him homophobic names. The police, he said, told him it didn’t warrant an investigation. Several weeks ago, it happened again, he said. Then, three students who Partida said were drunk, followed him on campus at night and called him a “faggot.” He said he didn’t bother to report it because campus police didn’t do anything the first time.

The lack of action by campus police concerns James Tate, Community Relations Consultant with the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.

“Situations like these are unfortunate but an everyday reality for some students,” he said. “This is why education and awareness are crucial. What we know is that many times acts of violence begin with name calling and other forms of bullying, and we should avoid a spark turning into a flame. The district attorney’s office is committed to victims of any crime, and we are here to help.”

The campus police said they do take those incidents seriously.

“We do take these kinds of reports and would refer the case to the SMU student conduct office for investigation as possible violations of the student code of conduct,” said SMU Chief of Police Richard Shafer.

So given the outrage volleyed at Sterling for his racist comments, shouldn’t people, especially LGBT people, direct a similar demand for accountability at SMU? LGBT Sports Coalition spokeswoman and ESPN.com editor Christina Kahrl sees a connection between Sterling’s racist remarks and the SMU students’ homophobic posts. She said the national attention Sterling’s comments attracted reflects how engaged people are with sports, but she noted that the anti-gay slurs on Yik Yak are equally offensive. However, many people don’t feel homophobic comments are relevant to them.

“This kind of backlash shows the need for their inclusion even more and shows serious concern for their safety,” Kahrl said.

Yik Yak CEO Tyler Droll and COO Brooks Buffington said in a statement that “Yik Yak is an anonymous app built to foster responsible interaction and build networks in hyper-local areas. While most of the posts and activity is positive, we make every effort to ban offensive or abusive use of the app. When an inappropriate comment is posted, we can suspend and ultimately ban users from communicating on Yik Yak.”

Yet, no SMU student was banned from Yik Yak for the anti-gay slurs. Sarah Gimbel, an SMU freshman, said she’s “very anti-Yik Yak.”

“I took it off my phone,” she said.

Some faculty members also expressed their disappointment that the students voted not to add the LGBT seat.

“This week, a large number of undergraduate students turned out to prevent the student Senate from creating an LGBT representative for the student Senate,” School of Education Dean David Chard wrote on Facebook. “If this move had been defeated by a handful of students it would be less hurtful. However over a thousand students turned out to vote; a crowd usually reserved at SMU for alcohol and dancing. This is very, very disappointing.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 2, 2014.

 

—  David Taffet

SMU students vote down LGBT Senate seat, post anti-gay rants

yikyak

A revote on an LGBT Southern Methodist University student Senate seat failed this week.

“The results were 1,107 votes in favor and 1,025 against — meaning it lost by an even larger margin than it did last time,” Spectrum co-President Shelbi Smith said. Spectrum is the university’s LGBT student organization.

“We have been doing a social media blitz, talking to strangers, and emailing all of the supporters who signed our petition,” former Spectrum President Harvey Luna said.

After trying to pass a bill in the student Senate since 2009 to add an LGBT special interest seat, the Senate approved the measure this year for the first time and passed it overwhelmingly. That entailed a change to the student constitution, which takes a two-thirds vote of the student body.

On the initial vote, the measure failed. Students had a week to collect signatures of 10 percent of the student body to bring the issue up for a revote. Spectrum members were successful in collecting enough signatures, but they failed to convince enough students to participate and did not receive two-thirds of the vote.

An anti-gay campaign seems to have raged on YikYak, an app that allows someone to post anonymously.

Luna sent a copy of some of the comments that included statements like, “Yeah, I’m homophobic so what?” and “I hope the gay community uses yik yak because yeah we do hate you and we do want you to know it.”

Others were collected by SMU student Dillon Chapman and can be found here.

—  David Taffet

SMU sexual assault shines light on male victims who break their silence

John David Mahaffey

The arrest of a male SMU student last week for allegedly sexually assaulting a male acquaintance sheds light on the small percentage of male victims who actually report such assaults.

John David Mahaffey, 19, was arrested after the victim, also a student, told SMU police he was forced to perform oral sex on Mahaffey in a parking garage at 3050 SMU Blvd., which is the address of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity where Mahaffey was a member.

Mahaffey has been banned from campus and suspended from the fraternity.

Jana Barker, executive director at Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center, said national statistics show that 3 percent of men will experience or commit rape in their lifetime. She said among male rape victims, only about 7 percent will report the sexual assault. Barker said gay men are often targets of sexual assault because of their sexual orientation.

No statistics could be found on the number of gay men who are raped and the number of male rapes on college campuses.

Many men never come forward to report the encounters because of the stigma of being raped and being a man and often because they feel they are targeted because they have gay tendencies, Barker said. Some male victims question their sexual orientation afterward.

She said male victims also believe only gay men commit rape, but that is untrue.

“Rape is about power and control,” she said. “It’s not sex. It’s violence.”

Police later recorded a phone call between the victim and Mahaffey during which Mahaffey told the victim he should say the encounters were consensual.

Mahaffey is part of prominent SMU legacy. His great-great grandfather was a member of SMU’s founding committee and one of its first professors, NBC 5 reports. His grandmother, father and two aunts are alumni.

SMU spokesman Kent Best said the university isn’t commenting beyond a written statement because the investigation is ongoing.

“On Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012, SMU Police arrested an SMU student for an alleged sexual assault that occurred Sept. 23, 2012, on the SMU campus,” the statement reads. “SMU Police will present the findings of its investigation to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. The student is temporarily banned from campus pending further investigation.”

The U.S. Justice Department extended the definition of rape in January to include male rape. The definition had only stated that men who forcibly have sex with women was rape, excluding men who rape men and forced oral sex.

—  Anna Waugh

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 sends 18 to Midwest LGBT conference

Iowa State University is hosting the 2012 Midwest Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay Transgender Ally College Conference Feb. 10-12. One student from Texas Women’s University, 17 from Southern Methodist University’s LGBT group Spectrum and an SMU professor are attending, according to the Daily Campus. Spectrum Co-President Harvey Luna put the group together after attending last year’s conference, according to the SMU newspaper.

Karen Click at SMU Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives called it a national conference for student leaders. She said this is the second year SMU has participated.

“They come back inspired to create change on campus,” she said.

Registration for the event is $80 per person and the group chartered a bus from Dallas.

“The SMU Student Senate paid for them to go,” Click said.

The MBLGTACC conference began in 1991 and takes place annually in the upper Midwest. The goal is to learn new strategies to face problems LGBT students face on campus daily.

Two weeks ago, Youth First Texas hosted a conference of North Texas gay-straight alliances.

—  David Taffet

Chard nominated to education board

Openly gay SMU dean faces Senate confirmation hearing to earn spot in Obama administration

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Chard.David

David Chard

Openly gay Southern Methodist University Dean David Chard has been nominated to the National Board for Education Sciences by President Barack Obama.

If approved by the Senate, Chard will be one of 15 voting members appointed by the president. The board is the research arm of the Department of Education.

Chard is unable to comment about the position until after the confirmation hearing.

He was among three people named to the board by Obama on Oct. 19. The others are Larry V. Hedges and Hirokazu Yoshikawa.

Hedges is professor of statistics and a faculty fellow of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.  Yoshikawa is professor of education and the academic dean at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Chard has been dean of SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development since 2007. He served as director of graduate studies for the department of special education at the University of Oregon from 2003 to 2005, and as associate dean of the College of Education at the University of Oregon from 2005 to 2007.

Since arriving at SMU, Chard has become active in the LGBT community. Working with Resource Center Dallas, he created a counseling internship program that is a partnership between his school and the Oak Lawn agency.

He also spearheaded efforts to get SMU to become a Black Tie Dinner sponsor.

The Education Department position is advisory. The members consult with the director to approve priorities and guide the work of the institute.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 21, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

‘Hold Your Peace’ Dallas premiere tonight at Angelika

Free movie? Yes, please

When Southern Methodist University alum Wade McDonald set out to make his debut feature film, the one thing he didn’t want to do was make a “typical” gay film: No naked boys as the selling point, no ridiculous gay-angst drama, no coming-out story. McDonald loves romantic comedies and wanted to make his own — just with men.

His plan worked. The result, Hold Your Peace, seems to have resonated with audiences.

Read the entire article here.

DEETS: Angelika Film Center, 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane. Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. Free (passes at Buli or Skivvies). HoldYourPeaceMovie.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Far from Brokeback

With ‘Hold Your Peace,’ SMU grad Wade McDonald adds his name to a budding local community of queer filmmakers

SO HAPPY TOGETHER | Soon-to-be-marrieds Max (Tyler Brockington, above left) and Forrest (Blair Dickens) trigger mixed feelings from Max’s ex in the new film from local filmmaker Wade McDonald, on set right, opposite page.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

…………………….

HOLD YOUR PEACE
Angelika Film Center, 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane. Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. Free (passes at Buli or Skivvies). HoldYourPeaceMovie.com.

……………………..

When Southern Methodist University alum Wade McDonald set out to make his debut feature film, the one thing he didn’t want to do was make a “typical” gay film: No naked boys as the selling point, no ridiculous gay-angst drama, no coming-out story. McDonald loves romantic comedies and wanted to make his own — just with men.

His plan worked. The result, Hold Your Peace, seems to have resonated with audiences.

“We finished in April 2011 and started applying to film festivals right away,” McDonald says. “We premiered in Philadelphia and it snowballed form there to San Diego and even a non-gay film fest in Rhode Island. We got a distributor before the film even premiered! It was crazy.”

Dallas audiences get their first chance to screen Hold Your Peace at the Angelika Film Center Mockingbird Station on Tuesday — just in time for Pride.

“It hadn’t shown here yet, but a friend of our audio editor, Terry Thompkins, was kind enough to pay for a screening,” he says. “I’m so excited it’ll show at the Angelika because I love it there.”

McDonald describes Peace as a meditation on relationships where shenanigans ensue after Aiden is asked to be the best man at his ex Max’s commitment ceremony. Only Aiden isn’t too keen on going alone, much less going at all.

What McDonald strived for was not a “gay movie” per se, but a film where characters happen to be gay. Anyone gay or straight can identify with the situation of unexpressed love and torch-bearing. At the same time, it was important to create a fun and easy watch that fairly portrayed queer men.

“It’s a very human and very honest film. This is a portrayal of normalcy,” he says. “I’ve had straight people tell me they didn’t think they would like this film. It plays a bit safer and I think more people can relate to it.”

McDonald funded Peace mostly on his own, making it on a $200,000 budget. By Hollywood standards, that’s nothing, but it’s high for indies. But he knew he had to make the production high quality. As a cinematographer by day, he had both the know-how and the equipment to shoot a film that looked polished. But he holds the entire cast and crew responsible for putting out a quality product. Don’t call him the film’s auteur — this was completely a team effort.

McDonald is intent on making his mark in queer cinema. Hollywood can take care of itself, he says, but he feels at home in Dallas. A burgeoning community of local gay filmmakers has left him with the sense there’s something special going on around here. He joins Israel Luna, Shawn Ewert, Robert Camina, Yen Tan and Mehul Shah as current or recent Dallasites forming a budding cinema community, turning Dallas into a Mecca of queer film. Hey, it could happen.

“I think it’s something that’s unique to Dallas,” he says. “We are starting something here and if we begin producing enough content here then we can create an industry. Something that can let people quit their day jobs to work on something they love.”

McDonald has no intention of moving to Los Angeles or New York for his movie career. He grew up here, went to SMU for school and he now lives with his partner in Plano. McDonald is the local boy done good, but who hasn’t moved away. He prefers to keep it that way.

“I’m proof positive you can do it in Dallas,” he says. “I could move to L.A., but my personality doesn’t mesh there and that’s fine. It’s inexpensive to shoot here, we have a great support system and I’d love to continue making films right here.”

For now, McDonald is gearing up for his initial Dallas screening. He showed it to cast and crew already, but now the general public gets to see his finished product. For any filmmaker, putting his work out there is nerve-racking, but McDonald and team already see the film taking on a life of its own.

“It’s your baby in a way and you don’t wanna be told you have an ugly baby,” he says. “I’m very proud of what we accomplished with Hold Your Peace and everyone worked their butt off. We’re not setting out to make great literature, just a film that’s fun to watch. You’re just supposed to enjoy it.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Local briefs

Miller to speak at GLFD event

Former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller will speak at the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas membership kickoff event at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 13, in the Fifth Floor Owners’ Lounge at The House at Victory Park, 2200 Victory Park Ave.

GLFD raises money to support local organizations outside the LGBT community to raise the visibility of and awareness of philanthropy in the LGBT community. Among previous GLFD beneficiaries are The Women’s Museum, Parkland Hospital, the Latino Cultural Center, the Dallas Symphony and Southern Methodist University.

Until now, money was raised through donations and events. Now, GLFD is soliciting memberships. A basic annual membership fee is $50. For $200, the “Advocate” level also includes two invitations to an annual member appreciation event. The $500 “Philanthropic Partner” level also includes optional website recognition.

Anyone who would like to attend should email Keith Nix at knix@keithnix.com.

UUCOC offers grief workshop

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff, 3839 West Kiest Blvd., will begin a grief workshop series and a speakers forum next week.The workshop series is for those coping with loss, whether from the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship or termination from a job.

Hosted by the Rev. Mark Walz, the workshops will be lead by the Rev. Xolani Kecala, chaplain and affiliated minister of UUCOC.

Interested parties should call 214-337-2429 to reserve a space. The workshops take place Sept. 15 and Oct. 13.

The Second Wednesday Speaker’s Forum kicks off on Sept. 14 with Garrett Mize, Texas Freedom Network’s youth advocacy coordinator.

Mize’s efforts focus on engaging young people to become leaders in advocating for evidence-based, comprehensive sex education.

Light refreshments and discussion begin at 6:30 p.m. Mize’s presentation begins at 7 p.m. followed by a service from 8 p.m. to8:30 p.m. focusing on the evening’s topic.

Austin Pride to help wildfire victims

Austin Pride events scheduled for Saturday will continue as planned, despite wildfires that have ravaged surrounding counties this week. But in response to the fire, Pride organizers said they are organizing a clothing and non-perishable food drive with GoingUpDay.org to help those displaced by the fires, which have destroyed more than 1,300 homes, many in Bastrop County, just east of Austin.

Austin Pride takes place Saturday, Sept. 10 in downtown Austin at Riverside Drive and South 1st Street at 8 a.m. For more information, visit AustinPride.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 9, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

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