With focus, resources TU remains among top for LGBTQ+ students

June 22, 2020

Towson University continues to work toward a more diverse and inclusive campus.

pride index

Towson University continues to earn high marks for inclusion, with a recent “Pride Index” ranking of universities across the country illustrating the work the university has put into providing a supportive community for LGBTQ+ students.

For the second straight year, TU was given a four-star ranking by CampusPrideIndex.org.

“An inclusive, welcoming community isn’t just a goal at Towson University, it is a pre-requisite for a quality, higher education experience,” President Schatzel said. “A diverse and inclusive classroom experience provides that our graduates have learned to both thrive and support others to thrive in an environment inclusive of race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation and levels of able-ness.”

TU ranks among the state’s leaders in the LGBTQ+ index — University of Maryland, College Park earned five stars and the top ranking nationally, while Johns Hopkins University and Goucher College join TU as four-star recipients.

But the ranking doesn’t comprehensively capture all the progress TU has made in providing a supporting community for its students.

Erin Rook, assistant director of LGBTQ+ student development and diversity, says that type of progress in a year is significant, but just a starting point.

“It is great to be recognized through the Campus Pride Index, but at TU we are working to intentionally go beyond the parameters of the index in creating an inclusive and supportive campus for all LGBTQ+ individuals,” Rook said. “We still have work we need to do, but we've made significant changes and additions to LGBTQ+ programming and initiatives in the last year and are excited for another year of pushing this work even further along.”

In the past year, the list of accomplishments by TU faculty, staff and students working together through the Center for Student Diversity is far more impressive than the ranking, itself.

In the past 12 months, TU has:

  • officially launched the campus-wide chosen name policy
  • grown an LGBTQ Alumni Affinity Group
  • launched “New and Q” — a first-year/transfer student experience for incoming LGBTQ+ students
  • created “Queer and Questioning” — a monthly support group for students, faculty and staff
  • added LGBTQ+ programming for graduate students
  • held the first Queer Leadership Retreat to promote leadership opportunities
  • hosted programming on consent and sexual violence prevention, centered around LGBTQ+ identities and experiences
  • attended an LGBTQ+ admissions fair in NYC
  • developed the Bi+ Support Group for students through the Counseling Center
  • launched the “Full Spectrum” lecture series to present research and increase campus access to LGBTQ+ academic scholarship and research opportunities
  • developed the first Queer Wellness Week in a collaboration across campus constituencies
  • promoted International Pronoun Awareness Day with a campus-wide initiative through social media.
  • provided resources and training on LGBTQ+ experiences and identities through classroom and on-line training by CSD Queer Peer Program (formerly Pride Mentor Program) coordinators and both CSD and OIIE staff.
  • developed partnerships with community organizations focused on supporting LGBTQ+ identities.

The index website notes that it was developed in 2007 as “a benchmarking tool” to foster safer, more inclusive campuses.

The 2020 ranking does not take into account a number of the measures listed above that TU has emphasized, including the development of affinity groups, trainings, resources and admissions efforts.

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland and Diverse and Inclusive Campus.