Kent State was awarded the highest score in the Campus Pride Index, a benchmarking tool that is intended to help universities create safer and more inclusive communities.

The index focuses on showing what colleges and universities offer for LGBTQ students, faculty and staff, according to the Campus Pride website.  The index asks questions about each university or college pertaining to a school’s LGBTQ inclusiveness.

The Campus Pride Index is run by Campus Pride and a team of national LGBTQ experts. Colleges and universities are invited to update responses and answer new questions in the index.

“The goal is never to get all yeses,” director of Kent State’s LGBTQ Student Center Ken Ditlevson said. “I guess that would be an awesome goal, but the expectation is not that every question is going to be a ‘yes.’”

Getting the highest score does not mean there isn’t room for improvement, president of PRIDE! Kent and senior applied conflict management major Jacob Dudley said.

“Another important thing to realize is that while it is very impressive and we should be proud of the score we’ve gotten that just because we got the best score we could doesn’t mean we should get complacent,”  Dudley said.

This year, Kent State improved its Campus Pride Index ranking from 4.5 to 5.0 with the addition of new university policies.

One new university policy that changed the Pride index is faculty and staff preferred name change, which means if someone who is transgender has a dead name, a name they were given at birth they no longer identify with, they can officially change it with the university.  

In the past, Kent State’s ranking has fluctuated, Ditlevson said. 

“There are some weird questions in there where it asks about ‘do you have out representation of staff and faculty in this area,” he said. “In the Office of Global Education last year, we had a ‘yes’ because we had somebody who was over there and he was active with us [LGBTQ Student Center].”

Although Kent State received the highest score, there are some questions that did not receive a ‘yes’ that Ditlevson is working on improving, which includes students having the option to self-identify their genders on applications or post-enrollment forms.

“Strategically we try to map out where we think we can make an impact, instead of throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks,” Ditlevson said. “Trying to really be strategic about what is our next step and putting our plan in place.

Autumn Rietzel covers student life. Contact her at arietzel@kent.edu.

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