Boston Colleges Get High Marks for LGBT Inclusion
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Emerson and Simmons Colleges are among the area colleges that received high marks in a recent survey that gauges LGBT-inclusive campuses.
MIT received five stars, the highest number any school could achieve. School policy, student life, health services, housing and campus safety were among the several aspects of life that Campus Pride examined.
On the university’s LGBT site, students can browse through an in-depth list of resources at the school. These include a list of hate crimes and homophobic incidents on campus, a page dedicated to the "You Are Welcome Here" campaign and another that offers information about the Rainbow Lounge, MIT’s LGBT center.
"Campus Pride applauds all campuses [that] have ’come out’ on the Index, regardless of their rating," said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride. "By doing so these campuses are taking active responsibility for their LGBT campus community."
Other schools on the list included Tufts University, Emerson College, Simmons College and Suffolk University; all of these institutions received four stars or more. Emerson didn’t get full marks, which likely came as a surprise after the Princeton Review named it the number one college in the country for LGBT students in a 2008 survey.
Harvard University was also included on the list. The Ivy League school received 4.5 stars, losing full marks due to a lack of LGBT-themed housing, a committee to look over inclusive policies and paid staff for support services.
Maxine Schlein, who graduated from Harvard in 2010, said she believes the Ivy League school is a wonderful place for LGBT students. "Harvard has a vibrant gay community that is supported by students of all sexual orientations. Many students are openly gay," she said. "There are various student groups and events throughout the year."
Harvard is home to the Hasty Pudding Festival, which often includes a cross-dressing celebration. Julianne Moore posed outside the theater with several college students in drag earlier this year after she won the Woman of the Year award.
Notably absent from the list however, were Boston University and Boston College. While colleges were not required to participate in the study, they could have answered a very detailed survey that would have allowed Campus Pride to rate the school.
For some students, this absence was no surprise. "It was interesting," said Henry Wilder, who graduated from Boston University in June. "I felt that I knew there was a gay population on campus but I never experienced anything."
He also stated that while the Drag Ball and other large-scale events were held annually, BU faculty and administration did little to offer support to LGBT students.
"It just wasn’t as major a part of the community as frats and sports or even other minority groups were," said Wilder.
BU’s LGBT student group, Spectrum, last met in April, but the group did not immediately respond to EDGE’s request for comment over the school’s lack of visibility on the Campus Pride index.
The situation on Chestnut Hill is reportedly less accommodating to LGBT students.
A recent hire and incoming graduate student at Boston College who asked to remain anonymous discussed his experiences on campus with EDGE. "Apparently, Dr. (Patrick) Rombalski (the vice president of student affairs) is sympathetic to GLBTQ efforts, but he has a tough job fighting between initiating GLBTQ programs and pleasing the conservative, rich and religious alum who keep the purse full," he said.
That’s not to say LGBT students don’t exist at Boston College.
A quick look on Grindr or Manhunt shows that many students include "BC" in their username, a common abbreviation for the school’s name, but more often than not are still in the closet.