As Marlins begin the Fall 2021 semester, the phrase “It’s a Great Day to be a Marlin” can be heard all over campus as students greet friends, faculty and staff with a smile. This past August, The Princeton Review recognized Virginia Wesleyan University as “one of the nation’s best institutions for undergraduates” and included the school in their list of The Best 387 Colleges from across the country.
Just 14% of the nation’s schools were reviewed in the publication. It highlights the outstanding ability of teachers to connect with students and provide the thorough education that students are seeking in a college. Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s Editor-in-Chief and lead author of The Best 387 Colleges, stated VWU’s “outstanding academics” as the main reason why The Princeton Review recommends the school to prospective students.
They praised VWU for the “close-knit community” that creates an atmosphere where students know just about every person they walk past throughout the day. According to President Miller, the closeness is what motivated students to make “the right choices for the good of our community” so that the school could “offer two full semesters of in-person instruction.” While masks remain in place, the VWU campus community was required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to campus.
VWU was also included in the Best Colleges rankings from U.S. News & World Report. The university was in the top thirty schools for “Ethnic Diversity,” as well as being featured for the categories “Best National Liberal Arts Colleges” and “Top Performer on Social Mobility.” Also, this is the fifth year in a row that VWU has been recognized for being ethnically diverse.
Additionally, VWU was honored by the nonprofit organization Campus Pride as one of The Best of the Best LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges and Universities in the country. Each school gets rated in categories such as policy inclusion, safety, housing inclusion and counseling and health services. VWU was given a five out of five-star rating overall.
Campus Pride is currently the leading nonprofit organization helping student leaders and campus groups who are actively collaborating to improve safety and inclusion on college campuses. Virginia Wesleyan is among the top forty campuses within that group.
President Miller attributes the high rating and inclusivity to the fact that the school “values the needs of every Marlin.”
As president of Spectrum, VWU’s LGBTQ+ inclusive group, Jordan Gilliam disagrees with the high praise. Gilliam states that the school is not “nearly as inclusive as they believe themselves to be.”
Gilliam also said that the lack of safe space training leads to discrimination and students who are transgender or gender-nonconforming have often been placed in the wrong housing situations. Gilliam says that the housing problem, along with other issues, “needs to be changed.”
By Rhian Tramontana