James Downs, associate professor of history and American studies, will spend the 2015-16 academic year studying medical anthropology at Harvard University.
Campus Pride, in collaboration with the Huffington Post, today announced Connecticut College as one of the Top 25 LGBT-Friendly Colleges and Universities in the country. The list is based on the Campus Pride Index, a detailed survey of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) policies, academics, student services and diversity training for faculty, staff and students.
“Diversity and inclusion are central to a liberal arts education, and all students benefit from a learning environment in which students with different experiences and perspectives can participate freely,” said President Leo I. Higdon Jr. “For the past seven years, we have taken a number of steps to create a more supportive environment for all students. This recognition is a testament to the success of our efforts to transform the campus climate, and I am very proud that Connecticut College is now considered a top school for LGBT students and allies.”
In the spring of 2007, Connecticut College opened the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning) Resource Center to provide educational programming and a central space for students. Under the leadership of director Jen Manion, associate professor of history, the center has collaborated with other offices, departments and student groups, bridging the divide between academics and student life, and bringing the discussion of LGBTQ issues to nearly every corner of campus.
“We have worked very hard to make Connecticut College a place where LGBTQ students are supported, connected and critically engaged in all areas of campus life, from the classroom to the playing field to the residence halls,” said Manion. “We are very honored by this recognition.”
The College’s LGBTQ Center helps students learn to navigate campus resources and make the most of their college experience through a variety of workshops, lectures, and gatherings. It produces a guide to courses with significant content about LGBTQ issues or gender and sexuality and hosts conversations about special issues that LGBTQ students might face while studying abroad or looking for internships and jobs.
In 2010, Connecticut College introduced a gender-neutral housing option to address the specific needs of transgender and gender-non-conforming students. Other recent initiatives include designating or building single occupancy gender-neutral bathrooms in all academic and public buildings on campus, and creating a name-change procedure for students, faculty and staff that allows for the use of a preferred name on college documents and in communications. Manion provided numerous trainings on the importance of these policies for faculty, staff and students.
On the Campus Pride Index, the College scored an overall five out of five stars, as well as five stars for addressing issues of sexual orientation and gender identity/ expression.
For students, a friendly campus climate is essential to be able to freely learn, contribute to the community and engage with faculty, staff and fellow students. Michael Murgo ’15 says that is exactly what he found at Connecticut College.
“One of my earliest, most significant memories from Conn was when I had just recently ‘come out’ and was walking across campus on a rainy afternoon, hand-in-hand with my boyfriend underneath his big, bright, rainbow umbrella. Not used to being so visibly ‘out,’ I found myself shocked how not even a single passer-by gave us so much as a second look or surprised reaction, but instead met us only with warm smiles and friendly hellos,” he said.
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