Oregon State University is one of only 19 colleges in the United States to receive a five-star ranking for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) inclusion and friendliness.
The Campus Pride LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index looks at policies, programs and practices, and ranks colleges from one to five stars, depending on the answers those colleges provide to Campus Pride. The index is used to benchmark LGBT student safety and inclusion on campus.
Oregon State, which is ranked alongside the University of California-Berkeley and Oberlin as one of the most LGBT-friendly campuses, has a long history of student LGBT organizations as well as administrative support. The student organization Rainbow Continuum has its roots in the early 1970s and is the longest continuously running student organization on campus.
This is the third year OSU has received a five-star ranking, according to Steven Leider, coordinator for the Office of LGBT Outreach and Services. The office focuses on retaining LGBT students through education, awareness, resources and support.
“We are very fortunate to have a group of activist students who push to have the campus consider the needs of LGBT students,” Leider said. Many of the programs and offices created to support LGBT students have been student-driven, he added.
The Campus Climate Index makes more than 230 campus climate reports available to the public through www.campusclimateindex.org.
“The rising number of campuses across the nation willing to stand up and speak out for their LGBT students is a testament to the growing recognition that educational environments should be safe and inclusive of all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Shane Windmeyer, Campus Pride executive director and creator of the Campus Climate Index.
Leider said OSU continues to work on improving the climate for LGBT students, faculty and staff. He is looking at how to implement an LGBT mentoring program, modeled on best practices from other universities. Oregon State has a variety of programs, offices and individuals who help support LGBT students, staff and faculty on campus.
• The Pride Center, established in 2001, like other campus cultural centers, has a covenant with the university that protects its status from ever being revoked.
• Each June LGBT students can participate in Lavender Graduation, a special celebration held before commencement. Each participating student gets to invite a special guest speaker, whether a faculty member, family member or friend, to speak during the event.
• A campus Pride celebration takes place each year and includes a variety of events and workshops open to the entire campus. It culminates in an extremely popular drag show.
• Halsell Hall, one of the newer campus residence halls, has a Gender Inclusive Housing option for students, allowing them to pair up regardless of gender identification.
• An LGBT faculty and staff network connects the campus community through Yahoo groups.
• OSU Counseling and Psychological Services offers a once-a-week LGBT drop-in support group on campus during the school year.
~ Theresa Hogue