Campus Pride Index recognizes NIU for being LGBTQ-friendly

NIU is recognized for being safe and inclusive

DeKALB — NIU was recognized with a perfect five out of five on the Campus Pride Index scale for the first time. The university received this score based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression with eight subcategories.

The scale has been in use since 2001 and was updated in 2015 to add higher benchmarks.

“The Campus Pride Index is an essential tool to help campuses learn ways to improve their LGBTQ campus life and ultimately shape the educational experience to be more inclusive, welcoming and respectful. LGBTQ people and allies,” according to their website.

Molly Holmes, director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Centre, said people should use the index in a way that speaks to them based on their personal needs. One of the benefits is for people trying to decide which school to go to.

Part of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center helps make this campus safer and more inclusive for LGBT people through training for allies, which can be specifically tailored to the group they are training, such as athletics or campus police, Holmes said.

“Every time we do more; we’re adding the floor, we’re doing more training with different locations, because we’re adding opportunities like the preferred proper name option, which builds trust with students who can benefit from those experiences and resources,” Holmes said.

Building trust with students gives them more of a chance to open up and say what they feel.

Holmes said the administration needs to be on board with everything to move forward and create policy. They can’t stop placing gender neutral bathrooms, now they need to have more training, more policies. It is not the work of one person.

Although NIU received a five out of five rating in seven of the subcategories, including LGBTQ student and university life, campus safety and counseling, and health, the university only scored 3.5. out of five for housing and residence living.

“With housing in particular, it’s always a partnership where we have to be good partners in understanding what’s possible and then what’s happening in the timeline of the housing process and being partners in understanding how and when we can keep moving forward,” Holmes said.

LGBTQ Safe Housing began in New Hall with a group of 12 residents.

“Housing did some really extensive renovations to Neptune where the floor is now which included a lockable, gender-neutral private toilet,” Holmes said. “The restrooms on the ground floor of the LGBTQ floor are gender-inclusive; we don’t sex these places. We don’t categorize housemates by gender, these are all things the housing has taken care of over several years.

NIU also did not complete all the checkboxes in the subsections. For example, the university does not have a specific LGBTQ alumni, fraternity or sorority group and missed four points regarding the housing issue.

Holmes is still incredibly proud of the score they achieved and to be recognized for the accomplishments made through everyone’s hard work.

“I’m very proud of NIU for the reasons previously stated regarding, you know, the students who trust us and the administrative support,” Holmes said. “I think beyond that too, I feel like we’ve created a new standard that we’re going to be even better at. I’m absolutely happy with the five star rating, and I’m encouraged to push harder and go further because there’s always something we can do to be better and improve.