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 UMD among 100 Best Campuses for LGBT Students

The Advocate College Guide

UMD has placed in the top 100 colleges in the first guide for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT/GLBT) students. The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students, by Shane L. Windmeyer was released August 1, 2006. The guide promises to be an invaluable resource for parents and families seeking to help their LGBT students find the best college choice.

Windmeyer, national LGBT campus authority and founder of Campus PrideNet, created this comprehensive guide. The book has grown out of Campus Pride’s efforts as the only national network for LGBT college student leaders and campus organizations. Photo: Students Topher McCulloch, Bridget Noonan, Jacqueline Ingrouille, Ev Lamiao with GLBT Services Director Angie Nichols in the Queer Student Union office.

In order to compile the guide, researchers held 5,000 online interviews with LGBT students and 500 online interviews with faculty and staff from campuses across the country.

UMD was selected in the top 100 because of its positive environment, programs and services. The strong student coalitions at UMD were also cited as important for the selection. Campus institutional policies, commitment and support, academic life, housing, student life, counseling and health services, campus safety, and recruitment and retention efforts were all examined.

“UMD deserves to be on this list," said Topher McCulloch, a UMD honor student and graphic design major. He said, “There are Safe Space stickers everywhere on campus."

Ev Lamiao, a senior who is planning to go to law school agrees with McCulloch. He said he joined the UMD student organization, the Queer Student Union last year. “It’s really important to have a safe place for students to go, just to spend time with each other.”

"I am honored that UMD was recognized as a campus that accepts all people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression," said Angie Nichols, director of UMD’s Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Services. "The GLBT Services office has worked diligently to create a welcoming environment for current and prospective GLBT students, faculty and staff. It’s been a struggle, because it’s a difficult time for equal rights in our movement's history.”

One of UMD’s strengths is a continual series of Ally Training Sessions presented to classes, student groups and community members. Typically, a panel of three to five members presents a workshop covering GLBT topics such as terminology, the identity development of GLBT persons, and how one can become an active and effective ally. Jacqueline Ingrouille is a Master of Social Work student and the intern for the GLBT Services office. She has trained over 300 allies. She says the feedback she gets after giving a presentation is primarily positive. “Most of the time I hear people say that they have a better understanding of what GLBT students face,” she said.

Ingrouille also trains allies in communities around Minnesota. “We did a training in Brainerd because people had been receiving hate messages. It was amazing,” she said. “After the training, the group developed an action plan right then. They made a plan to write letters to the editor, to thank community members who have shown their support, and to talk in churches.”

Bridget Noonan, who has also been part of Ally Training said the supportive environment at UMD is so strong because of the faculty. “Many faculty members are “out” and the students see them treated with respect by their colleagues,” she said. “That makes a big difference." She said there is good climate for GLBT students."You can tell most students aren’t bothered by their GLBT classmates because tons of people come to the annual Drag Show. It’s one of the most popular events on campus.”

Nichols said that the GLBT program couldn’t have done it alone.“This honor was made possible because of the support of the UMD administration, faculty, staff, students, and community members, namely our faith-based allies,” she said. "We also had technical support and advising from state and national organizations." UMD GLBT Services has a number of programs to support students. The alumni group is named Q&A, Queer Alumni and Allies. The student group, the Queer Student Union, has dozens of members. There is a GLBTQ Faculty/Staff group and a GLBT Advisory Commission. In addition, two programs offer financial assistance to GLBT students: the GLBT Leadership Fund and the Cruden-Riggs Scholarship Fund. "Donations continue to come in for the Cruden-Riggs Fund," said Nichols. "We should top the $10,000 mark this year and that will put the scholarship into the endowment category." There is also a GLBT Program Fund to support events and projects.

UMD is among the colleges and universities who are leading the way for the rest of higher education to be GLBT-friendly. “These campuses take to heart the value of supporting all students," said Windmeyer.

Academic programs, student life offerings, tuition, and campus contacts are included in the book. There are sections on housing, LGBT studies, gay-friendly resources on campus and the social scene.

Written by Cheryl Reitan

UMD GLBT Services

News Release

For more information on The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students, visit http://www.campuspride.net/.

Posted Aug 2, 2006

UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan, creitan@d.umn.edu
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto, slatto@d.umn.edu, 218-726-8830

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