It’s nice working at a college where we don’t fear the results of the annual Princeton Review.
When I worked at a large SEC institution, we dreaded the results. There would inevitably be some reference to binge drinking, promiscuous sex and a guaranteed top 10 finish in Best Party Schools. We’d then be forced to beef up our programming efforts in a belief that would change the results for the next year. It never worked.
Life at Emerson is different. For the second time in as many years, we’ve been named the most LGBT friendly college in the country.
What is interesting is you won’t find administrators waiting for the ranking, nor will you find an official response to it. It’s not that we don’t care. We were just born this way.
I know… that’s a silly response, but it’s true. While we’re incredibly proud of this title, it’s not something we set out to achieve. Our goal is to be as accepting and caring to every student as possible, to treat each student with the respect and dignity they deserve, to embrace the identity of every student. This filters down to the hiring of faculty and staff, to the policies and procedures that govern us and the admission of students. We don’t try… we just do.
We don’t have a dirge of LGBT-focused programming. Our LGBT student group, while strong, isn’t a force on campus as compared to other orgs.
What we have is a group of students, faculty and staff who care. We integrate LGBT issues into classes, programs and events. We seek out ways to be inclusive and accepting. We embrace all of our populations. From the beginning of a student’s career in the Admissions Office to the eventual step of becoming a part of Alumni Relations, this is a priority – not because it makes us buzz-worthy, but because its the right thing to do.
Seven years ago, at the SEC school earlier referenced, the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs told me I acted too gay and I needed to tone my gay down so I wouldn’t offend the normal students. It was humiliating and devastating.
Today I hold my head up with immense pride… pride that I call an institution home that embraces all students, that respects human worth and fights to spread this message. Even if we don’t brag about it.