Miss Gay Texas questions Princeton Review ranking
For the second year in a row, Southern Methodist University was recently named the 14th-most homophobic school in the nation by The Princeton Review.
‘Joe Hoselton said he disagrees with the ranking and wonders how SMU was equated with Brigham Young University, the University of Dallas, Baylor University and others that appeared on the Review’s annual top 20 list titled, "Alternative Lifestyle Not An Alternative."
Hoselton, whose female persona is Jenna Skyy, is graduate admissions coordinator for SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts and the newly crowned Gay Miss Texas.
"The view from my window, not that I have a window, is a much better view," Hoselton said. "I’m around people who are gay-friendly or gay themselves."
He said when he returned from Houston with the Gay Miss Texas crown, the dean sent him an e-mail with congratulations. The e-mail from the dean at other schools on the most homophobic list, he suggested, might have been a termination notice.
Karen Click is director of the Women’s Center at SMU, which also houses Spectrum, the LGBT student organization. Click said she was also somewhat surprised by the school’s ranking. She rattled off a number of programs and events on campus in the last year.
She said SMU has a non-discrimination project called "Every Student Deserves Respect." The campus has held programs for National Coming Out Day, Transgender Day of Remembrance and Gay Pride, and it hosted an LGBT job fair sponsored by Resource Center Dallas. An LGBT mentoring career program helps students learn about being gay in the workplace. In addition to Spectrum, Allies is a group of on-campus LGBT supporters that holds regular social hours. Complaints of discrimination at SMU are taken seriously.
But, Click said she trusts the ranking somewhat because it’s based on student surveys. She said it’s "a mixed bag" of students who come into her office.
"Some have had positive healthy experiences on campus. Others have not," she said.
Baylor, the Southern Baptist university in Waco, ranked three spots above SMU on the list, at No. 11. A professor at Baylor, who asked not to be identified, said the university would fire her if she came out. In contrast, Hoselton noted that SMU offers domestic partner health benefits to employees.
A representative from the University of Dallas, a Catholic school that was No. 8 on the most homophobic list, didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Seamus Mullarkey, senior editor of Princeton Review’s "Best 371 Colleges" said, "All comments and rankings come from students." He chose some quotations from the open-ended section, "Tell us about life on campus."
Students wrote, "SMU could use more diversity," and, "Huge mix of students but you have to look hard."
Mullarkey said to be included on the list, schools must be academically excellent. Also, the average number of surveys returned was 350-400 per school. Had too few been returned, the school wouldn’t have been ranked. He said he didn’t know who responded to the SMU survey or, for example, if most answers came from the Cox School of Business rather than the Meadows School of the Arts.
Mullarkey said that while policies and events at institutions may vary, student attitudes alone determine the rankings.
But Hoselton still wonders if he’d be tolerated, no less embraced, at a truly homophobic school.
"I’ve hosted in drag the staff talent show, during the school year, during the day, on campus," he said, adding that he doubts he has a Baylor counterpart.
For more on the Princeton Review rankings, go to www.princetonreview.com.
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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 7, 2009.