SMU avoids dreaded distinction for 2nd straight year, but Texas A&M, Baylor and the University of Dallas all make Princeton Review’s bottom 20

School

WEATHERING A STORM | SMU’s LGBT student group, Spectrum, marches in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade last year. SMU has managed to get itself off The Princeton Review’s list of the nation’s most Gay-Unfriendly schools. (Chuck Marcelo/Dallas Voice)

 

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

Three Texas schools remained on The Princeton Review’s list of 20 most gay-unfriendly schools in 2013 — University of Dallas at No. 10, Texas A&M at No. 11 and Baylor University at No. 12.

Southern Methodist University, which appeared on the list for several years before dropping off in 2012, remained absent this year. Baylor came off for one year but returned last year at No. 10.

No Texas schools made The Princeton Review’s LGBT-friendly list, nor did any school anywhere near Texas. The closest is Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, 750 miles from Dallas. All of the LGBT-friendly schools are on the East Coast, or in the Midwest or California.

Sidney R. Gardner, GLBT Resource Center program coordinator at Texas A&M, searched to find something positive about her school’s ranking.

“Last year, we were at No. 7,” she said.

Unlike Baylor and University of Dallas, A&M has recognized LGBT student groups and an LGBT professional network for faculty and staff.

Gardner said A&M is the only school in Texas with a stand-alone LGBT resource center with full-time staff. Other schools, such as SMU, combine women’s and

LGBT programming into centers for gender initiatives.

While A&M doesn’t have a formal LGBT alumni group, Gardner said some former students are working to create one. And this year, the GLBT Resource

Center was invited to share information at Fish Camp, the school’s orientation for incoming students.

TAMU

GIGGING THE GAYS | Texas A&M student Emily Bach holds a sign in opposition to a Student Senate bill aimed at cutting funding for the GLBT Resource Center in April. Given repeated attacks on the Resource Center in the last few years, it’s no surprise A&M once again appears on The Princeton Review’s list of the nation’s most Gay-Unfriendly schools. (Stuart Villanueva/The Eagle)

And while A&M doesn’t offer partner benefits to its faculty and staff because of a prohibition at state universities, the school does have nondiscrimination policies in place.

But Gardner said the real story about where A&M stands could be seen after the Student Senate voted to cut funding for the Resource Center in April by allowing students to deduct an amount from their student activity fees. After the measure was vetoed by the student body president, “We got an amazing outpouring of support for the center and the community,” Gardner said.

Gardner also cited other surveys. The group Campus Pride ranks gay-friendly schools using a five-star system based on policies, programs and practices rather than student opinions. On that index, A&M receives three-and-a-half stars.

On the Princeton Review index, which is based on student attitudes about their campuses, A&M may be in the same position SMU was several years ago when it was working hard to climb off the list.

Karen Click, who runs the SMU Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives, said she was very happy with the news that the school remained off the gay-unfriendly list this year.

“You have a choice when selecting schools,” she said. “You can choose one that will support and affirm you.”

SMU has officially recognized gay student organizations and offers domestic partner benefits to faculty and staff. Its LGBT employees work without fear of reprisals because nondiscrimination policies have been in place for more than a decade. Campus Pride gives SMU four stars.

Joe Hoselton, admissions director for SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts graduate programs, said the school continues to move in the right direction.

“We’ve been proactive,” he said. “We’re now making ourselves more visible.”

Hoselton, better known as drag performer Jenna Skyy, should be plenty visible when he brings an evening of Gay Bingo to the SMU campus this fall along with the crew from the Rose Room. Hoselton wondered if he’d be equally welcome to stage that event at Baylor.

Susan Duty, a film and digital media major at Baylor, said she doubts it. She described the atmosphere on her campus as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

“If you’re LGBT, that’s fine,” she said. “As long as you’re not out.”

She called Baylor’s faculty more accepting than its administration, especially in departments like hers.

Earlier this year, she said, she heard about nondiscrimination ordinances in other cities in Texas.

“Why can’t we do that in Waco?” she said.

Working with Equality Texas, she helped introduce a city EEO policy that passed a committee in July. She said she was surprised that no opposition came from the school, but she thinks that because the school is a religious institution, it considers itself exempt.

Representatives from the University of Dallas, a Catholic school, did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

A&M, Baylor and the University of Dallas also appear on The Princeton Review’s top 20 schools with the most conservative students and the top 20 schools with the most religious students.

While the poll is not a scientific, random sampling, it reflects attitudes of students about life on their campuses.

Campus Pride does not rate either Baylor or University of Dallas.

Of the three Texas gay-unfriendly campuses, University of Dallas fared the worst, appearing on a number of lists, including No. 3 Least Beautiful Campus. The school was also in the top 20 for Little Race/Class Interaction, This Is A Library? and Future Rotarians and Daughters of the American Revolution.

The only positive list University of Dallas made was No. 3 Most Popular Study Abroad Program. With such an unattractive campus, leaving is apparently a great option.

Students at SMU, on the other hand, are some of the most content in the country. SMU placed in the top 20 Best-Run Colleges, Most Beautiful Campus, Best College Dorms, Best Athletic Facilities, Best Career Services and Happiest Students. Dallas even gets a nod from SMU students in the College City Gets High Marks category.

Other Dallas-area schools didn’t do so well in the surveys. Texas Christian University made one list — Little Class/Race Interaction. University of Texas at Dallas is on the Least Beautiful Campus list.

Rice University students in Houston touted their institution naming it as No. 3 Best Run School and scoring No. 2 under Happiest Students in the country.

While University of Texas in Austin didn’t earn the rank of top Party School of the year, it did place in the top 20 in that category, as well as Lots of Hard Liquor, Lots of Beer and Reefer Madness. And in case the partying overwhelms any UT students, they ranked their health services among the top 20 in the U.S.

The National Center for Transgender Equality has begun a project to collect information about resources for the trans community.

Its Transgender On-campus Nondiscrimination Information or TONI Project listed six schools in Texas with some policies or practices provided for their trans students, such as gender-neutral housing options.

Those schools are TCU, SMU, UT Austin, Texas A&M Galveston, Texas Tech and University of Houston.

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The Princeton Review’s Most Gay-Friendly and Gay-Unfriendly schools

 

Gay-Friendly
1. Emerson College
2. Warren Wilson College
3. New College of Florida
4. Stanford University
5. University of Wisconsin-Madison
6. Oberlin College
7. Franklin W Olin College of Engineering
8. Smith College
9. New York University
10. Bryn Mawr College
11. Wellesley College
12. Bennington College
13. University of Chicago
14. Yale University
15. Carleton College
16. Sarah Lawrence College
17. Macalester College
18. Pitzer College
19. Marlboro College
20. Grinnell College

Gay-Unfriendly
1. Grove City College
2. Hampden-Sydney College
3. College of the Ozarks
4. Wheaton College
5. University of Notre Dame
6. Brigham Young University
7. Wake Forest University
8. Calvin College
9. University of Rhode Island
10. University of Dallas
11. Texas A&M University
12. Baylor University
13. Trinity College (Connecticut)
14. Auburn University
15. Colgate University
16. Wofford College
17. Hillsdale College
18. Catholic University of America
19. Pepperdine University
20. University of Wyoming

 

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 9, 2013.