For the third consecutive year, Hobart and William Smith Colleges have been recognized as a leader for LGBT-inclusive policies, programs and practices. HWS has once again been awarded an excellent score, five out of a possible five stars, on Campus Pride’s Campus Climate Index. The Colleges’ numeric score of 92 percent rose slightly over last year’s, reflecting HWS’ continued work on issues for LGBT community members on campus. Campus Pride is a nationally-recognized organization dedicated to making colleges and universities safer, more inclusive spaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
“The Colleges are very pleased to receive a five-star rating from Campus Pride for the third year in a row,” says Christine de Denus, associate provost. “Our efforts around LGBT inclusivity continue to expand each year.”
She notes this past year the Colleges had a number of guest speakers on campus, sent staff and students to present at the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium Spectrum Conference, held a teach-in focused on transgender identity and issues, shared information with faculty around creating more inclusive classrooms, and held their first Lavender Graduation as part of the Lavender Gayla.
“We started this academic year by implementing gender pronoun stickers at new faculty and new student orientation, and we look forward to hosting more guest speakers, teaching new classes, and the hiring of our first tenure-track faculty member in the LGBT Studies program,” adds de Denus.
The LGBT studies program has increased the range of the LGBT curriculum at HWS over the past academic year, including adding new courses in queer studies and transgender studies.
“This year the LGBT studies program has brought in an excellent Visiting Professor of LGBT Studies, Tallie Ben Daniel, whose groundbreaking work on sexuality and Israel/Palestine allows us to globalize our course offerings,” says Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies Michelle Martin-Baron, a member of the LGBT Studies Steering Committee. “We are also excited to embark on a search for a tenure-track faculty position, which will allow the program the important support it needs to expand and flourish. The Pride Index allows to celebrate our successes, but even more importantly, it sets a high bar for us to reach toward as we work to make HWS an increasingly queer friendly environment.”
William Smith Associate Dean Lisa Kaenzig, who is a member of the HWS Commission on Inclusive Excellence and who leads the Commission’s subcommittee on LGBT issues, points out the changes being made are “incremental changes that are systematic and system-wide. This type of change usually is long-lasting and that is very important.”
She says, “We continue to work on the issues specifically related to our transgender community members, increasing the number of gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus, awareness of important LGBT issues and adding more to our curriculum.”
The Commission on Inclusive Excellence, first convened by President Mark D. Gearan in 2007 to address issues related to equity, diversity and justice, includes members of the senior staff as well as student and faculty representatives. HWS had the first LGBT undergraduate program in the country and one of the first women’s studies programs. In addition, the Colleges have some of the top scholars of these issues as members of the faculty.
The Campus Climate Index is owned and operated by Campus Pride, the largest nonprofit organization in the country serving student leaders and campus groups working to create more LGBT-friendly learning environments at colleges and universities. The Index is a tool for helping institutions improve and discover opportunities to make their campuses more inclusive and respectful of LGBT individuals. The score is based on a self-assessment by the institution focusing on eight LGBT-friendly factors such as housing, academic life, support and institutional commitment, and campus safety.