Kent State Receives Highest Possible Score as an LGBTQ-Friendly Campus
A national organization has recognized Kent State University with a perfect overall score for the university’s efforts to create a more inclusive campus and welcoming environment for all.
Kent State has received a 5.0 out of 5.0 score on the Campus Pride Index, the premier national benchmarking tool for creating safer and more LGBTQ-friendly learning environments at colleges and universities. The university moved up from last year’s score of 4.5.
“I’m proud that Kent State has made progress in supporting our LGBTQ+ student and campus community,” said Ken Ditlevson, director of Kent State’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Student Center. “I feel like we’ve always been strong in this regard, as a leading community resource for LGBTQ+ individuals, but our score now truly represents the great work being done.”
The Campus Pride Index examines eight LGBTQ-friendly factors: policy inclusion, support and institutional commitment, academic life, student life, housing, campus safety, counseling and health, and recruitment and retention efforts.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment for Kent State on the Campus Pride Index,” said Alfreda Brown, Kent State’s vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion. “This is reflective of Kent State’s deep commitment to create a university community that is truly – in practice and action – inclusive of all.”
For LGBTQ students at Kent State, the top score is a point of pride that demonstrates the university’s ongoing commitment to strengthening diversity and inclusion.
“I am proud to know I attend a university with a 5.0 Campus Pride Index,” said Kent State student Kayla Cagwin, who interns at the LGBTQ Student Center. “As a queer graduate student, it makes me feel safe to be able to be my most authentic self on campus. As an intern who works toward creating an inclusive campus environment, it is the most rewarding experience to be a part of an ongoing effort to support LGBTQ+ students, faculty and staff!”
Jacob Dudley, a Kent State senior who serves as president of the Pride! Kent student organization, is also pleased with the university’s latest achievement.
“I am incredibly proud of the score the university has received,” he said. “The LGBTQ Student Center in particular has done a lot of good work for the community on campus. I am sure we will continue to grow and improve to keep that great score.”
Kent State’s LGBTQ Student Center serves as a safe space where individuals can explore their identities and foster connections with other members of the LGBTQ community and their allies. Additionally, it connects students to valuable university and community resources and provides students with meaningful involvement and leadership opportunities. Resources that the center connects students to include the Queers United to Encourage and Support Transition (QUEST) mentorship program, the LGBTQ Library, the LGBTQ Emergency Fund, the LGBT Studies minor, university counseling services, university legal services, the universal restroom map, the preferred name change process and gender inclusive housing.
Over the past year, the main areas of change that the university accomplished that helped improve its Campus Pride Index score were policy changes. These policy changes included trans-inclusive healthcare for faculty and staff, preferred name process for faculty and staff, and a written policy for universal restrooms.
In 2017, Kent State’s LGBTQ Student Center expanded into newly renovated and furnished space where students can relax, meet new friends, get involved in programming, and engage in tutoring services or career development and exploration. In 2016, the university established a living-learning community for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and asexual students and their allies in Korb Hall. Also in 2016, the university established a Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality to advance the scholarly exploration of gender and sexuality.
The university offers four scholarships that give preference to LGBTQ+ individuals, as well as an emergency fund to assist students in financial crisis, Mr. Ditlevson said.
“Having an excellent Campus Pride Index score is important because it helps with recruitment of students, faculty and staff,” Mr. Ditlevson said. “It will help to ensure that we are recruiting the best candidates possible and that individuals aren’t looking elsewhere because they know they’ll be treated well at Kent State.”
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Ken Ditlevson, kditlevs [at] kent.edu, 330-672-8693
Emily Vincent, evincen2 [at] kent.edu, 330-672-8595