Thursday, September 27, 2007

How do we compare to other colleges and universities?

Besides the publication of new college guides for LGBT students and their parents, a new tool has been created that helps students understand the atmosphere on a particular campus for LGBT students and allows colleges and universities a chance to see how they measure up with others in providing a welcoming and supportive climate for this population.

The Campus Climate Index, developed by Campus Pride in coordination with leaders in the field of LGBT affairs in higher education, allows a campus official to provide feedback about a range of policies, programs and services that affect the climate for LGBT students at their institution. While a report with recommendations is then sent to the campus official, general information for each campus that participates in the questionnaire is made available on the Campus Climate Index website *unless the campus opts out of having this information public.

Approximately 100 campuses have responded so far, and those who have been rated with 3 stars or higher are recognized on the "Honor Roll." The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is among those schools on the Honor Roll.

Still, you may ask, how do we compare to other colleges and universities?

University of Texas at Austin - 3.5 stars
University of North Texas - 3 stars
University of Texas - Pan American - 2 stars
Texas State University - San Marcos - 3 stars

Aspirational Peers:
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee - 3.5 stars

Out-of-State Peers:
Boise State University - 3 stars
Eastern Michigan University - 4.5 stars

The aspirational and out-of-state peers were determined by the information sheet available from the UTSA Institutional Research website.

It appears that UTSA is on par with other Texas schools but does not stand out among its peers. Some Allies have seen the brief article on the Chronicle of Higher Education's website on September 25, 2007, and came to that conclusion while pointing out that we still have work to do so that we can get to the 5 stars.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

October is GLBTQ Pride Month @ UTSA

Hopefully you will see the bright, colorful advertisements around campus for GLBTQ Pride Month (if not, I will post a picture of it here on October 1). Each October, Ann Margaret Trujillo coordinates the development of a month of programming options in concert with representatives from Student Activities, Lambda Alliance, Alpha Lambda Tau, the Allies Program and other campus entities that wish to be involved. It seems to grow each year - and this year promises to have programs most days of the month with an effort to address GLBTQ issues. There will be movie nights, poetry readings, and a "Guess Who's Gay" event. The entire UTSA community, especially GLBTQ students and their allies, are invited to enjoy these events. Check back here for more information on October 1.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

For your LGBT Career Services needs

While there are the traditional resources for college and university students to prepare for the inevitable job hunt as they get closer to finishing their degree, LGBT students and their allies may find other materials to be helpful as they seek a work environment that is welcoming and respectful of all people regardless of gender identity/expression or sexual orientation. This month, the Human Rights Campaign, a non-profit organization that advocates for LGBT equality, released its sixth annual Corporate Equality Index, which rates large companies (such as Fortune 500s) on their policies and practices towards LGBT employees and consumers.

Besides the ratings, there is also a guide to the "Best Places to Work." This website lists those companies with outstanding workplace practices for LGBT individuals with an easy to view index by industry. Those companies headquartered in Texas include:

American Airlines
AT&T Inc.
Brinker International Inc.
Clear Channel Communications, Inc.
Dell, Inc.
Freescale Semiconductor Inc.

Besides the HRC information, there is an annual conference called Out for Work. In its third year, it is held this upcoming weekend in Washington D.C. While it is too late for this year, the Allies Program looks forward to working with any student interested in attending the next conference!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Guides to LGBT-friendly college and university campuses

While college and university students are returning to campus to begin the new academic year, juniors and seniors in high school will soon be receiving the outreach mailings from colleges and universities (if they aren't already) and will have the chance to interact with recruiters and representatives at college fairs at their high school or in their community. But for those students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) or in the process of discovering this identity (along with their parents), how does a student choose what college or university best fits this part of their life?

In August 2006, the first college guide devoted to colleges and universities with services and resources for LGBT students was released. The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students by Shane L. Windmeyer and published by Alyson Books offers a look at 100 campuses from across the country that offer what LGBT students may find most important to them - a welcoming and supportive environment with social and academic opportunities along with services especially geared toward LGBT students. This guide shares comments from students and reviews the climate from a campus, local and state perspective to help students better find the best fit. Of the 100 campuses, there are 32 states including Texas represented, but only two institutions in Texas - The University of North Texas and The University of Texas at Austin.

On Tuesday, September 11, another guide will be available (and is currently available for pre-orders). The Gay and Lesbian Guide to College Life published by the Princeton Review features an in-depth look at the experiences of LGBT students and ways they may find success on campus.
From the Barnes and Noble website:
Based on a survey of more than 1,000 college students around the country, The Gay and Lesbian Guide to College Life addresses everything from dorm life to activism and provides candid, sensitive, and empowering advice on how to thrive in college. Testimonials from students, interviews with administrators and student leaders, and a list of resources make the advice in this guide especially meaningful and useful.
This book may also provide administrators, faculty and staff a glimpse at the lives of LGBT college students, which we are not always in touch with. Such guides are only the beginning of resources to help students measure the LGBT-friendly atmosphere of a campus they are interested in and influence the higher education choice of so many students.

Civility Week Allies Training

Embarking on a new venture, the offices of Student Judicial Affairs and Residence Life at UTSA will coordinate the UTSA Civility Project from September 10 - 15, 2007. With the theme Promoting a More Civil Campus, this will be a week of presentations and events that informs students and engages them in conversations about civil interactions. The Allies Program is excited about being a partner in this venture by hosting a training session for UTSA students to know how they can be an ally and join the Allies Program.

Monday, September 3, 2007

The state of LGBT issues in (a few) other states

This past week seems to have been an eventful one for LGBT issues in other states including Iowa, Maine and Kansas:


Same-sex marriage - On Thurday, a state law prohibiting same-sex marriage was effectively struck down when a district court judge ruled that it is a violation of the equal protection and due process clauses in the state constitution (wouldn't that be true of the United States Constitution as well?). The following day, two Iowa State University students who met through Facebook were the only couple to marry. By that afternoon, the same judge granted the request for a stay pending a review of the case. (Note: The final paragraph of this story points out legal rights for same-sex couples in other states.)


Same-sex adoption - The Maine Supreme Judicial Court recognized that a same-sex couple has the right to adopt children in that state because the statute allows unmarried couples to adopt without regard to the gender of the adoptive parents.


LGBT discrimination and harassment protection - Through an Executive Order, the governor of Kansas set forth a precedent that protects most state employees of Kansas who are gay, lesbian bisexual or transsexual from discrimination and harassment in "on-the-job" situations.