Independent online college ranking and review website collegechoice.net recently published a list of the top 50 colleges for LGBTQ students in the nation. University of Oregon came in 42 place and was the only college in the state of Oregon to make the list.
Maure Smith-Benanti, the director of the university’s LGBTQIA support center called UOut, is happy to be on the list, but believes that UO deserves a higher spot on the list. Smith-Benanti cited Campus Pride (a website that evaluates colleges based on their ability to accommodate LGBTQ students) in her reasoning.
“We seem to rank much higher in a lot of different places. We’re definitely top 25 in Campus Pride and they’re the organization that has been rating universities for the longest time and last year we were top 10,” Smith-Benanti said.
The UO offers a number of accommodations for LGBTQ students including a high number of gender-inclusive restrooms; LGBTQ-friendly campus events; a plethora of student organizations which cater to LGBTQ students; training sessions for students, faculty and staff; insurance programs that cover trans affirming surgeries; a trans care team at the university health and counseling centers; and an outreach program that prepares LGBTQ high school students for college.
The state of Oregon has been progressive in its legislation as well.
“The Oregon legislature passed a bill last year requiring all institutions of higher education in Oregon to offer an opportunity for students faculty and staff to identify their sexual orientation and gender identity on any form that also asks for race/ethnicity as well as provide preferred name option,” Smith-Benanti said.
Smith-Benanti says the law should be implemented fall 2016 and would apply to all college campuses in the state, further solidifying the UO as one of the trailblazers for LGBTQ friendly colleges.
Brian Nelson, UO student and member of the LGBTQ community, says he feels that the ranking is appropriate.
“I definitely think the UO belongs on the list and number 42 out of all the colleges in the US is pretty awesome to read,” Nelson said.
“I would have to say as a member of the LGBTQ community the UO has a pretty progressive stance on diversity and inclusion which is felt throughout the campus […] As for the campus and student life, I don’t think I could have picked a better place to go to college. From freshman year till the spring term of my senior year, I have never felt more secure with who I am.”
College Choice rated the University of Pennsylvania number 1 on the list. Dr. Bob Schoenberg, director at Pennsylvania’s LGBTQ Center for the last 33 years, credits their ranking to the number of resources available to LGBTQ students at the university.
“I am very excited about the ranking […] I would attribute it to the range and quality of programs and services that are available to our student and to the policies and practices of the university which are supportive of the LGBTQ+ community,” Dr. Schoenberg said.
Smith-Benanti says that she is always looking for new methods and programs to implement in order to better serve LGBTQ students and improve the university’s reputation as an LGBTQ-friendly university.
For more information and support concerning LGBTQ topics, visit UOut’s website or visit their office in room 164 of Oregon Hall.