Editorial: LGBTQ progress must be tracked

By Daily Illini Editorial Board

When prospective students are deciding what university they want to attend, college rankings on various topics speak volumes. How environmentally friendly is each campus? What about the dining hall food or nightlife? What about the engineering or education program? What about the resources provided for LGBTQ students?

As an LGBTQ student entering the college world, knowing you’ll have the support system and allies you need when you arrive on your campus is vastly important. Campus Pride, a non-profit organization which helps colleges create better, friendlier and safer atmospheres for LGBTQ populations, conducted a study on the resources and policies set in place for LGBTQ students.

The University opted not to participate in the survey, leaving them out of the top 25 ranking and behind other Big 10 schools. Leslie Morrow, the director of the University’s LGBT Resource Center, said the University did not want to participate because some services are behind those of other schools.

“There are a couple things that here on campus we will never have; for instance, we don’t have a living-learning community that’s fully based on gender and sexuality,” Morrow said. “So because of that, we’re already down in the rankings.”

However, publicly setting a benchmark and knowing that we are behind other colleges is a great way to move forward and know where we need to improve to ensure members of the LGBTQ community feel exceedingly comfortable on campus.

Morrow has met with the creators of the Campus Pride organization to help give suggestions on how the index is tested, and she said that in the future, the University will consider participating.

When completing the index, the results don’t have to be released publicly. The last time a LGBTQ campus climate survey was conducted at the university was in 2004 but the campus’ LGBTQ environment has to have changed drastically in the last 11 years. After so much time, now is definitely the time to have our progress assessed and evaluate the areas in which we still need to improve to get an accurate idea of where the University stands.

By not assessing how LGBTQ-friendly this campus is at its current state, we have created the possibility of driving away potential students. This also fosters the possibility that students of the LGBTQ community who currently attend the University might not feel as safe or comfortable as possible.

Creating a safe environment for students of all backgrounds and sexualities is essential in today’s world. Showing potential and current students that the University is accepting of all students can only help us, and getting an accurate gauge of the current atmosphere can only help the University and its students.

All students deserve equal opportunities to have a comfortable, fun college experience and it’s time to make a larger effort to ensure that happens here.