Campus Pride Index evaluates Xavier’s LGBTQ policies and campus climate
By Will Pembroke | Staff Writer
In a recent study on the different aspects of LGBTQ life on campus, Xavier’s university policies were rated a three out of five stars by the Campus Pride Index.
In April, a survey consisting of 260 questions on the various elements of life as a member of the LGBTQ community at Xavier was completed. Xavier is one of five Jesuit institutions to complete the survey.
The elements were divided into eight categories: policy inclusion, support and institutional commitment, academic life, student life, housing and residence life, campus safety, counseling and health and recruitment and retention.
Each category is rated on a scale of one to five, one being the lowest and five being the highest, by Campus Pride.
According to its website, this nonprofit group owns and operates the index “to create, safer, more LGBTQ-friendly learning environments at colleges and universities.”
The index is an independently produced tool by Campus Pride for universities to highlight their support of LGBTQ students on campus to enrolled and prospective students.
Xavier scored highest in the support and institutional commitment and student life categories with a score of four out of five on both.
On the other hand, the university scored lowest in housing and residence life with a one and a half out of five and in campus safety with a two out of five. The university scored between two and a half and three and a half in the remaining categories.
Maria Merrill, assistant director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI), played a significant role in the university completing the inaugural survey.
“Our score, 3 out of 5, also places us right in the middle of the five Jesuit schools who have completed the survey,” Merrill said.
She also cited the four other Jesuit institutions that have completed the survey as being primary influences for Xavier’s evaluation.
“Overall, it tells us that we have a lot of great things happening on campus for our LGBTQ students, staff and faculty with specific regard to our support and institutional commitment,” Merrill said. “Likewise, it shows us where we can invest a bit of extra energy and thought into improving our scores, such as campus safety and housing and residence life.”
Grace Schuermann and Juliana Castagna, the co-presidents of Xavier’s LGBTQ Alliance, said they were glad to have the results and seek growth in on-campus safety in particular.
“Our new goal in the next academic year we will be reassessed in is to hopefully get to a 3.5,” Schuermann said. Castagna added that Merrill has discussed working with Xavier police on training for officers.
On the issue of campus safety, Schuermann and Castagna floated an idea to add to the first-year application process for housing a survey surrounding each incoming student’s comfort in living with a member of the LGBTQ community. The goal for adding such a survey would be to eliminate discomfort for students who may encounter those who are not accepting or tolerant of their identity.
Katy Orleck, a senior occupational therapy and psychology double major explains that the rating of 3 out of 5 is reflective of Xavier’s policy. “From my experience, we strive to be inclusive of all people,” she said. “I have professors that list their pronouns and will say significant other over boyfriend or girlfriend.”
“There is always need for improvement,” Orleck explains, “but I see steps being taken all the time. The gender-neutral bathrooms are a perfect example of Xavier evolving with society.”
Merrill also described a process to improve Xavier’s score for the subsequent evaluation in 2020.
“Our plan moving forward is four-fold: identify, collaborate, discern and act,” she said.
For more information, you can contact Maria Merrill in the CDI.