Campus Pride Index recognizes NIU for being LGBTQ friendly

NIU is recognized for being safe and inclusive


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LGBTQ + Flag for the rights of pride and sexuality

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

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

“The Campus Pride Index is a vital tool for assisting campuses in learning ways to improve their LGBTQ campus life and ultimately shape the educational experience to be more inclusive, welcoming and respectful of LGBTQ and ally people,” according to their website. 

Molly Holmes, Director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center said people should use the index in a way that speaks to them based on their personal needs. One benefit is for people trying to choose what school they should go to. 

One way the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center helps make this campus safer and more inclusive for LGBT individuals is through ally training, which can be specifically tailored for the group they are training such as athletics or campus police, Holmes said. 

“Every time we do more; we add the floor, we do more training with different places, as we add opportunities like the preferred proper name option, that 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’re feeling. 

Holmes said that the administration has to be on board with everything in order to make progress and create policy. They can’t stop at placing gender-inclusive bathrooms, now they have to have more training, more policies. It isn’t just one person’s job. 

Despite NIU receiving a five out of five score on seven of the subcategories including LGBTQ student and academic life, campus safety and counseling and health, the university did score only a 3.5 out of five for housing and residence life. 

“With housing specifically, It’s always a partnership where we need to be good partners in understanding what’s possible and then what’s in the timeline of housing’s process and be partners in understanding how and when we can continue to go forward,” Holmes said. 

LGBTQ safe housing started in New Hall with one cluster that had 12 residents. 

“​​Housing made some really key renovations in Neptune where the floor is now that included a private lockable gender-inclusive restroom,” Holmes said. “The restrooms on the floor of the LGBTQ floor are gender-inclusive; we don’t gender those places. We don’t gender roommate assignments, these are all things housing has supported over the course of several years.”  

NIU also did not complete all of the checkmarks within the subsections. For example, the university does not have an alumni LGBTQ group, a specific LGBTQ fraternity or sorority and missed four marks regarding the housing issue. 

Holmes is still incredibly proud of the score they got and being recognized for the achievements made through everyone’s hard work. 

“I feel very proud of NIU for the reasons previously stated around, you know, students trusting us and administrative support,” Holmes said. “I think beyond that too, I feel we’ve created a new standard of which to become even better. I am happy with the five-star rating absolutely, and I’m encouraged to push further and to go further because there’s always something that we can do To be better and to improve.”