Hobart and William Smith Colleges have been named to Campus Pride’s annual “Best of the Best” Top 30 list of the LGBTQ-friendly campuses across the nation.
Campus Pride represents the leading national nonprofit for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBTQ students. The organization’s premier listing showcases the most LGBTQ-inclusive colleges and universities when it comes to policy, program and practice in higher education.
“Prospective students and their families today expect colleges to be LGBTQ-friendly. They want to know what LGBTQ programs, services and resources are available on the campus — and which are the ‘Best of the Best,'” said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride and creator of the Campus Pride Index. “Now more than ever, there are colleges that are recruiting LGBTQ youth — and they are investing in a campus that is fully supportive of LGBTQ students. This Top 30 list showcases those ‘Top’ campuses leading the way.”
“Being included in this list is an important factor for potential students and their families, and for potential faculty and staff members. It’s a clear indicator of the kind of inclusive place we are and the ways we’re continually looking to improve,” says Lisa Kaenzig, associate dean of William Smith.
In the past, HWS have received exceptional ratings on Campus Pride’s Campus Climate Index for three consecutive years, but recently, the Colleges have made further strides toward LGBTQ support regarding gender inclusive housing selection and preferred gender pronoun usage through both the Office of Student Life and the Office of the Registrar.
“I think that the recognition of work that is being done on campus focused on LGBTQ rights and gender issues by Campus Pride is encouraging for our institution,” says Associate Professor of Chemistry Christine de Denus. “It shows that we care about our campus community and that we are working hard to make sure all individuals feel welcome and respected. I have been fortunate to be involved in implementing and leading many of the changes that have occurred on campus, and I feel proud to have been able to be a part of these movements.”
HWS are home to the first LGBT studies major in the nation; host to a steady roster of expert LGBTQ guest lectures through academic departments and the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men; and committed to campus dialogues that highlight the intersectionality of identity.
“Conversations about race, gender, sexual orientation and gender expression are all connected under the movement of social justice,” Kaenzig explains. “And so often, the movement for change is first heard in the voices of our students, who work with faculty, staff and administrators to figure out what we need to do to push that movement forward.”
For HWS Pride Alliance President Nicole Milburn ’18, the Colleges’ inclusion among Campus Pride’s “Best of the Best” is testament to “the actions of so many students and faculty who work tirelessly to make the campus a safe and inclusive space. Their efforts, past and present, have been crucial in improving the lives of LGBTQ-identified members of our community. I am proud to work alongside such people, and as a queer student, I am thankful to those who have come before me. In light of recent violence done to LGBTQ people in this country, it is important to let this spotlight shine also on the barriers to equality our LGBTQ students face…There is still work to be done on this campus, but I’m glad to know Campus Pride has recognized the progress we have made.”
The Top 30 list is based on overall ratings on the Campus Pride Index and specific LGBTQ-inclusive benchmark measures, which self-assess LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs and practices. Unlike some well-known LGBTQ rankings and other commercial ratings, the Campus Pride Index is based in research on policy, program and practice and is conducted for and by LGBTQ experts in the field of higher education. Each campus updates their index annually and uses the free Campus Pride benchmarking tool to make improvements for LGBTQ life on campus.
In order to be in the Top 30 listing, an institution had to score the highest percentages in the LGBTQ-friendly benchmarks for policies, programs and practices, many of which specifically address recruitment and academic retention efforts for LGBTQ students as well as concerns for transgender student safety. The listing this year includes colleges with student populations from 807 to more than 45,000 as well as public and private schools.
See the full list at CampusPride.org/CampusPrideTopCampuses.