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SU achieves perfect score in national rankings for LGBT campus climate
SU achieves perfect score in national rankings for LGBT campus climateDecember 06, 2007SU News ServicesSUnews@syr.edu
Campus Pride, the leading national organization that promotes collaboration among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) student leaders and campus groups, has named Syracuse University one of only eight institutions nationwide to earn a perfect, five-star rating in its LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index. This honor exemplifies SU’s commitment to LGBT students, faculty and staff through policy inclusion, support services and focus on academic and student life initiatives.
“For many years, Syracuse University has been working diligently to support all members of its community with regard to LGBT issues and educational opportunities. Chancellor Nancy Cantor has led us to even greater heights, fusing academic explorations with the experience of all community members to cultivate the opportunities presented by different manifestations of diversity,” says Barry L. Wells, senior vice president and dean of student affairs. “This achievement is a testament to the kinds of collaboration that are made possible in this exciting environment.”
Several SU organizations, offices and academic departments have worked closely together on LGBT issues. These include the ongoing coordination provided by the LGBT Resource Center, a unit of the Division of Student Affairs, along with the LGBT Studies Program in The College of Arts and Sciences; the student organizations Pride Union and Open Doors; and several other administrative and academic units.
“We have not done this alone. The five-out-of-five-star rating is a result of hard work and active collaboration with our faculty and staff colleagues across the University, as well as students and student organizations from a wide variety of backgrounds,” says Adrea Jaehnig, director of the LGBT Resource Center.
“Syracuse University’s leadership — among students, faculty and staff alike — has made great strides in our ongoing efforts to create an inclusive, nurturing learning and living environment for all students and community members,” says Wells. “Achieving national recognitions like this gives us valuable third-party feedback on the progress we are making.”
The LGBT Resource Center (http://lgbt.syr.edu) was established in 2001 with the unanimous support of the University Senate. The Division of Student Affairs was charged with creating and staffing the center, part of the Student Support and Diversity Education functional area, to provide safe space, support, education and advocacy for the LGBT community on campus. “Many alumni have commented on how much better their college experience would have been had they had the resources, courses and opportunities for involvement that there are now for LGBT and straight-ally students,” says Jaehnig.
The LGBT Studies Program (http://lgbt-studies.syr.edu/) was created in 2006. With almost 20 courses from five different schools and colleges, it offers an 18-credit, interdisciplinary minor in LGBT studies, first-year forums for LGBT students and allies, and other academic initiatives such as conferences, speakers and SU Abroad offerings. “Many faculty, staff, and students worked for many years to start this new academic program,” says Andrew S. London, associate professor of sociology in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, who, with Margaret Himley, associate professor of writing and rhetoric in The College of Arts and Sciences’ Writing Program, holds the title of co-director of the LGBT Studies Program. “We are doing exciting things on this campus to create opportunities to learn about LGBT lives, experiences and perspectives.”
Among the other SU initiatives leading to the Campus Pride honor are the establishment of an LGBTA Learning Community, the inclusion of gender identity and gender expression in the institution’s non-discrimination policy, expansive programming offered around LGBT issues, and the Office of Human Resources’ affirmation of equity in the processes and procedures surrounding domestic partner benefits administration.Released in October 2007, “The LGBT Friendly Campus Climate Index” (http://www.campusclimateindex.org) profiles more than 125 colleges and universities that offer resources and create a positive living and learning environment for LGBT students. Campus Pride developed the survey in collaboration with national leaders in the LGBT services field and ranked campuses on eight different factors, including policy inclusion, student life, academic life, housing and campus safety. Other institutions that received the five-star rating include the University of Oregon, the University of California-Berkeley, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Illinois-Chicago, Pennsylvania State University, Oregon State University and the University of Southern California.