by Geoff Larcom, Published August 12, 2011
Eastern Michigan University has been named one of the top gay friendly universities in the nation by the 2011 Campus Pride Climate Index. The complete listing can be found at http://www.campusclimateindex.org/search/
Eastern Michigan was one of only four listed Michigan schools to earn a 4.5 star rating or above on the list. The others were the University of Michigan, Western Michigan and Grand Valley State University. Nationally, only 33 universities across the country received a perfect rating of five stars this year.
"Being recognized as a top gay friendly university is significant and meaningful for our campus community," said Bernice Lindke, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management. "We have a welcoming and caring environment for all of our students, and this high rating acknowledges that."
"We are incredibly proud of our Campus Climate ranking," said Mary Larkin, EMU's LGBT Resource Center Program Coordinator. "The assessment provides us an opportunity to really look at the programs, events and services that we offer to our LGBT students and allies. In order to maintain this ranking, we must continually strive to educate our campus community in order to create and sustain an inclusive environment."
Comments from the EMU students surveyed for the rankings included:
"My first experience on EMU's campus was great! As I walked through the Union I noticed a rainbow flag hanging at the EMU info desk. I immediately felt welcome. I have attended other colleges around the country and I had never felt such a presence of the LGBT community anywhere else."
"I couldn't imagine myself being at any other university. It's a positive place to be involved in campus activities. I feel very welcomed. I feel like this campus is a good model of what diversity should look like."
"I think we have a really supportive campus. No matter who you are, there are always other students and faculty members that are there to support you, no matter what."
The Campus Climate Index ranks nearly 300 public colleges and universities based on policies, programs and practices related to inclusion and friendliness. Colleges are ranked on a scale of one to five stars, based on answers the schools provide on a voluntary survey submitted to Campus Pride.
Founded in 2001 and based in Charlotte, NC, Campus Pride is the leading national nonprofit organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBT students.
"Campus Pride's Index is the only one of its kind," says Campus Pride Executive Director Shane Windmeyer, a leading author, speaker and researcher on LGBT campus issues. "Unlike other, commercially-driven rankings, our ratings are done for and by LGBT people and set in a foundation of solid research practice."
Campus Pride's 2010 State of Higher Education, a report documenting the experiences of over 5,000 college students, faculty, staff and administrators, showed that only seven percent of universities nationwide have institutional support for LGBT students.
"According to our national research, more than a third of transgender and 13 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual students, faculty and staff fear for their physical safety on campuses across the United States," Windmeyer says. "As a result, more than a third of these students and faculty have seriously considered leaving their school. We must do better."
For more information on Campus Pride's Campus Climate Index, visit www.campusclimateindex.org