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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Campus Pride Index and its relationship to Carleton

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When thinking about college rankings, I would ask: what ranking agencies care about students’ personal lives and social identities? One such organization is a non-profit named Campus Pride.

The Campus Pride Index is a well-known ranking that is focused on how nurturing college campus environments are towards people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, or Asexual (LGBTQA+). I do not know how, but the index’s purpose is to provide a benchmark for how colleges are addressing LGBTQA+ inclusivity. The survey is self-reported. Additionally, the website of the nonprofit has quotes and pictures for people to get more of a sense of the atmosphere of the LGBTQA+ spaces on each campus.

Carleton scores four out of five stars on the index, so we have more than enough to continue working on when it comes to being LGBTQA+ friendly, even compared to other schools. In terms of academics alone, we rarely have queer studies courses offered, to name but one thing our school could work on.

I think that the metrics used by the index are in some ways very good, but they were conceived for a certain type of higher education institution. Carleton simply cannot do all of the things suggested by the US-wide nonprofit. We do not have graduate students, so we cannot have a graduate student organization for LGBTQA+ people. The same goes for LGBTQA+ fraternities and sororities. We do not meet these expectations because of the structure of our school, but there are plenty of things we can and should be doing.

Something that is currently marked against us that we are working on is the option to self-identify gender identity and sexual orientation identity on the admission application or post enrollment forms. This would allow our administration to have a better understanding of the make-up of our student body. It would also facilitate the administration’s correct use of a person’s chosen name and gender-identity. This would be a great improvement over the current process of changing one’s name and gender-identity, which is currently a fragmented and involved process.

As far as the Campus Pride Index is concerned, I do not believe most students and professors know what it is or would care about it if they were made aware. I think the student life administrators care a little bit more about it because in some ways it acts as their report card for LGBTQA+ issues. To me, this lack of engagement with things like the index comes from a belief that all is well at Carleton, which I push back against. Even the argument that Carleton is one of the safest and nurturing places needs to be reevaluated.

I challenge everyone who reads this to the end to self-educate yourselves on how social identities shape our experiences at Carleton and join the conversation about how we can improve our community. Both Winter and Spring terms, the Gender and Sexuality Center will have a community forum open to all students, faculty and staff regardless of how you self-identify. The forum is for helping the GSC develop Carleton’s strategic plan with regards to LGBTQA+ identified people’s needs in our community.

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