The University was recently named the in the state of Virginia for LGBTQ students by BestColleges.com and Campus Pride. The ranking combined BestColleges.com’s academic and affordability metrics with Campus Pride’s Index score of five stars.
“I think the award was correct,” said Shaun Khurana, a fourth-year College student and president of Queer Student Union. “We deeply care about the strides U.Va. is making.”
In the article write-up on BestColleges.com, the University was called, “one of the most LGBTQ-friendly schools in the state through measures such as gender-neutral restrooms, LGBTQ housing options, and inclusive career services.” It also mentioned campus support through the LGBTQ Center and LGBTQ Student Services.
“The University has received this award because of the pressure Queer Student Union activism has placed on its institutions,” Khurana said. “It is disheartening to us that the institution is being recognized and not us. We want credit where credit is due, and for the University student culture to catch up to these changes. “
According to the website, Campus Pride is the “leading non-profit for student leaders and campus groups working to create safer, more LGBTQ- friendly environments at colleges and universities.”
“The reason that U.Va. was awarded the highest ranking was because of something called the Campus Pride Index, which takes several aspects of the University into account, like housing, healthcare, all of the metrics,” Khurana said.
While BestColleges.com ranked the University the best based in the state based on a variety of metrics, the University did not have the highest CampusPride Index score. The University received 3.5 stars out of five while Virginia Commonwealth University received 4.5 out of 5 stars. Virginia Tech and William and Mary both ranked equally with the University at 3.5 stars while James Madison University received 2.5.
The Campus Pride Index breaks down the score using eight specific inclusion factors — Policy Inclusion, Support and Institutional Commitment, Academic Life, Student Life, Housing and Residence Life, Campus Safety, Counseling and Health and Recruitment and Retention Efforts.
Out of these scores, Campus Pride gave the University four out of five stars for Sexual Orientation and 3.5 out of five stars for Gender Identity/Expression.
In terms of policy inclusion, Zoe Pettler, a fourth-year College student and the vice president of the Queer Student Union, said policy changes do not always lead to direct changes in the University environment.
“Policy is not the same as lived experience,” Pettler said. “U.Va. scores well on the Campus Pride Index because of policies that students have fought to put in place. However, these policies do not automatically change the way that LGBTQ+ students are treated by the people around them in their day to day life.”
Khurana also noted how implementing new policies does not necessarily change how LGBTQ students will be treated by their peers. He said he is, however, optimistic about what has been accomplished so far and where the dialogue will continue in the future.
“I have a lot of hope,” Khurana said. “There are a lot of things to see, like including LGBTQ+ topics in the classroom, especially in the Medical School and the Law School... It’s about education.”