July 16, 2014

SIU earns five-star rating from Campus Pride

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale received a five-star rating for the first time from Campus Pride, a leading LGBTQ campus rating and information index. 

SIU is one of four universities in Illinois and one of 57 from more than 400 participating institutions in the nation to earn the perfect five-star overall campus pride score, according to Wendy Weinhold, coordinator of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans* Queer (LGBTQ) Resource Center.  

“We are very proud to earn this recognition.  I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished.  But, this is really indicative that we need to continue to progress.  It’s wonderful to be recognized for what we have done, but there’s still work to do and room to grow,” Weinhold said.  

SIU’s rating three years ago was 4.5 stars and several changes made since resulted in the rating increase.  Weinhold said the changes include creation of a gender-neutral residence housing policy that includes creating a Campus Pride Living Learning Community at Mae Smith Hall and gender-neutral housing at Wall & Grand Apartments beginning this fall.  There are also gender identity protections within the student conduct code and gender inclusive spaces in changing rooms and restrooms at the Student Recreation Center. 

In addition, inclusive academic programming has expanded during the last three years.  The Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies program now offers a sexuality diversity studies emphasis within its undergraduate minor, as well as a graduate certificate in women, gender and sexuality studies.  Meanwhile, the Department of Communication Studies also offers a gender, sexuality and communication graduate study specialization.  

Weinhold said the university will continue to enhance policies, facilities and procedures for LGBTQ students.  

While she is proud of the work that she and her office have done, Weinhold said the ranking is “a credit not just to me and this office but to the collaboration and work of many campus leaders in University Housing, Recreational Sports and Services, academic units and administration.  This accomplishment wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of everyone involved.”