In 2015 the Campus Pride Index, a website which measures college campuses in their openness and facilities for the LGBTQ community, gave Carleton College four out of five stars. It applauded the college’s open and hospitable attitude towards the community, but also drew the attention of students, faculty and staff towards the school’s deficiencies in this field, which include ally training, programs for faculty and staff, the inability of students to state their gender identity and the scarcity of queer studies programs.
Indeed, the Campus Pride Index concern that Carleton offers limited queer studies options is echoed by students. In fall 2015 a class called Introduction to LGBT/Queer Studies was featured at Carleton, yet it was taught by a visiting professor. Furthermore, there is no official LGBTQ major available.
“Students would like a permanent appointment to queer studies, a queer studies major rather than rely on visiting faculty,” Laura Haave, the Director of the Gender and Sexuality Center said.
There is also the issue of determining the gender identity makeup of Carleton. Currently, the college does not collect data on the gender identities of the student body and does not have any questions about identity in their application or post enrollment forms, so claims even as simple as the number of transgender students would be speculation.
There are, however, measures being taken to correct this. In October, Information Technology Services launched the Enterprise System Advisory Group, of which Haave is the co-chair, to look into the issue.
The task force looked at all the forms where sex and gender is or is not asked about and came up with a list of recommendations, one of which was to create an optional post-enrollment form where college’s students can list their gender, their preferred name and pronouns. This proposal is currently awaiting approval from Bev Nagel, the Dean of the College and Dean Livington, the Dean of Students.
With this change may come others. Carleton is currently considering shifting away from the Common Application, which is cited as being too formulaic and lacking distinctions. The CommonApp would be replaced by the Coalition Application process, which allows students to create a personalized application portfolio, and the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals, of which Laura Haave is a member, are trying to influence the coalition process to include questions about identity.
Because of these efforts, Laura Haave is optimistic. “I think that people are aware that this is an issue and we are trying to explore several different ways to make this more inclusive,” Haave said.
Haave said she has found that the Campus Pride Index rankings have created the space and sometimes the impetus for a conversation on campus, causing colleges to re-evaluate their programs.
Furthermore, the Human Resources department, in response to Haave’s inquires and the Campus Pride Index rankings, has now begun to include LGBTQ+ sensitivity training and programs in their orientations for incoming faculty and staff.
Haave said that overall, the Campus Pride Rankings have had positive impacts on the college. “They are a one-size-fits-all tool, and that is always going to be the limitation of that kind of benchmarking equipment, but in general I believe they are useful. It creates an instrument that you can use to create a dialogue on campus and is an external standard,” Haave said.