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Colleges LGBT Inclusivity Recognized

Posted on Friday, September 20, 2013

Campus Pride's Campus Climate Index has again recognized Hobart and William Smith Colleges as a leader for LGBT-inclusive policies, programs and practices. The Index awarded HWS an excellent score, receiving five out of a possible five stars. Campus Pride is a nationally-recognized organization dedicated to making colleges and universities safer, more inclusive spaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.  A total of 380 campuses were included in the Campus Pride index; only 52 achieved five stars overall this year.

"The Colleges are very pleased to receive a five-star rating from Campus Pride for the second year in a row," says Christine de Denus, associate provost. "This year we will be continuing our efforts to increase LGBT awareness on campus."

Among those efforts, she notes new courses in the curriculum and speakers coming to campus, as well as the HWS LGBTQ Allies group, comprised of faculty and staff, researching best practices at other institutions in the areas of classroom inclusion, campus communications, health and wellness and campus safety.  "The goal is to implement some of these best practices at HWS in the coming year," she says.

"We continue to feel excitement about moving forward with our work on LGBT issues here at the Colleges," says 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.  "It is wonderful to see our continued five-star rating with the Campus Pride Index which is a reflection of improvement in a number of areas, including the hiring of our first full-time faculty member in LGBT Studies, Cael Keegan."

The LGBT department is working to dramatically increase the range of the LGBT curriculum at HWS. This semester, it is offering the first transgender studies class in HWS history. A wide number of new courses in queer studies and transgender studies are planned.

"These courses, along with our existing offerings, will place the LGBT studies department and the HWS curriculum at the cutting edge of developments in these important and emerging fields," explains Cael Keegan, visiting assistant professor of LGBT Studies.

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.

"Congratulations to Hobart and William Smith College in achieving five stars overall on the Campus Pride Index," said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride. "This year over 80 percent of the colleges participating in the index improved and Hobart and William Smith College was among those who rated five stars.  Campus Pride commends the colleges in taking responsibility for LGBT-inclusive policies, programs and practices as well as creating a safer campus community for all students."

"Since my first year here, in 2010-2011, the campus has taken strides forward in becoming a more welcoming and open atmosphere," says Kelly Wendt '14, Pride president. "Although a lot of work remains to be done, I know the administration and students together have worked hard to continue moving forward and that we will continue to work until this campus is a fully inclusive place."

 


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