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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

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NIU ranked No. 1 campus for LGBTQ+ students in Illinois

Cutline%3A+A+progress+pride+flag+flies+outside+the+Holmes+Student+Center+in+November+2020.+NIU+was+ranked+%231+as+the+best+LGBTQ%2B+campus+in+Illinois+from+BestColleges.com.+%28Northern+Star+File+Photo%29
Cutline: A progress pride flag flies outside the Holmes Student Center in November 2020. NIU was ranked #1 as the best LGBTQ+ campus in Illinois from BestColleges.com. (Northern Star File Photo)

DeKALB Students looking for a safe and welcoming environment need not look any further as NIU was ranked as the #1 campus in Illinois for LGBTQ+ students by BestColleges.com

BestColleges.com is an educational resource for college students that rates universities on their campus pride, academics, admission rate and principles. To evaluate the academic quality of a university, BestColleges.com focuses on admission and enrollment rates and considers the cost of college and the amount of student loans. 

The website voted NIU as the #1 LGBTQ+ campus in Illinois for its ranking of a 5 on the Campus Pride Index, the highest ranking a college can get. The Campus Pride Index is a general assessment of a university’s commitment to policies, initiatives, and practices that include LGBTQ+ individuals. The on-campus resources and the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center helped NIU achieve this ranking, according to the website.

“It feels really nice to know that the university I’m attending accepts me for who I am,” Mya Lowery, a first-year psychology major, said.

Molly Holmes, director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, credits NIU’s ranking to the students, faculty and the NIU President Lisa Freeman.

“I value the trust that the students have put forth in us to tell us so that we can continue to use recognition as momentum,” Holmes said. “We talk about having an institutional value of diversity, equity and inclusion, and I think that when we’re being recognized for that, it’s evidence, its proof and it’s an opportunity for us to be a benchmarking institution for other universities,”

For the GSRC to do their work properly, Holmes and Freeman have emphasized that the student’s voice is absolutely critical.

“It is really powerful for a university leader to innumerate these things because when you are named, you are seen,” Holmes said. 

While Holmes recognizes the importance of this award, she wants to assure students that there is and will always be more work that can be done. 

LGBTQ+ students have an abundance of on-campus resources including the GSRC which provides LGBTQ+ students with personal student connections, events and a support network that feels like a “home away from home.” 

The GSRC works closely with other departments to create workshops, programs, presentations and conferences on subjects that help people who identify as LGBTQ+ or allies that support the LGBTQ+ community.

Community members of NIU and DeKalb can train to be a LGBTQ+ and trans ally where they can learn to better support and understand the identities of LGBTQ+ individuals.

Some upcoming events include Intersectionality Talks, which occur on a monthly basis and explore subjects such as identity and advocacy with current events with the next event taking place on Sept. 13 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Holmes Student Center Capitol Room.

“We will continue to do what we can to help shine a light on the importance of LGBTQ+ students,” Holmes said.

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