Campus Pride awards five stars for inclusivity

The Campus Pride Index is a system that ranks a college or university’s commitment to creating an LGBTQ friendly environment. The index is owned and operated by Campus Pride, the leading national nonprofit organization in creating more LGBTQ friendly college campuses.

On Aug. 24, Campus Pride released the most recent rankings and awarded Virginia Wesleyan with a five star rating on the Campus Pride Index. VWU is among the top forty LGBTQ-friendly campuses and universities in the index, which currently includes over 230 colleges and universities.

Oliver Chauncey, a junior at VWU and a member of Spectrum, the LGBTQ+ group on campus, was surprised by the five star rating that VWU received. “I feel like probably no school should have a 5/5 rating; I’d give us a 3/5 rating,” Chauncey said. Chauncey also questions the term “LGBTQ-friendly,” saying that they “wouldn’t go so far as to call us LGBTQ-friendly; it’s closer to LGBTQ-nonantagonistic.”

Chauncey pointed out issues within the faculty awareness and Resident Life policies, saying that they have “heard stories from other students about professors frequently slipping up, outing their deadname to the class.” In terms of guest policies, Chauncey says that Virginia Wesleyan’s “makes no provisions for gender non-conforming or trans students/guests and is heteronormative with its policies.” Even with the recent addition of more gender-inclusive housing on campus, there is still room for improvement in Chauncey’s eyes.

Moving forward, Chauncey would like to see more Safe Space training for the administration, teachers and staff. “We could improve by making Safe Space training mandatory (like hazing training is),” they said, “but I find it unlikely that admin would consent to that occurring- which is a bad sign for their outlook on queer students.”

The former president of Spectrum, senior Jordan Gilliam had some similar opinions as Chauncey. For example, when Gilliam was asked if our school deserves the rating we have for being LGBTQ-friendly, he said “No, not even a little, we are a solid 3 on a good day.” He was also asked if VWU deserves any kind of award for being LGBTQ-friendly. to which he said, “No, I do not feel that they do, however the school will swear that we are involved in some fight for equality but the students will tell you otherwise.”

Both Chauncey and Gilliam were asked what they thought our school could improve on to make the university more LGBTQ friendly. Chauncey simply said “Hire more queer staff. Make safe space training more accessible for students and mandatory for faculty.” Gilliam said “Well, they can start with sending out the preferred pronouns list that was sent out to administration before school started, give students the ability to change their names and gender on their official college documents, and have more living on campus geared towards LGBT students, etc.”

Neither Gilliam nor Chauncey thinks VWU deserves a five but rather a three. However, we do have some improvement suggestions from both parties so that we do have something to potentially push for. LGBTQ students deserve just as much of a voice as any other student on campus.

By Jalen Brown